The beauty of the Olympic Games is that it is an amateur event. Sure, many of the top athletes have million dollar endorsement deals with athletic companies and some participate in professional competitions throughout the year (tennis and basketball being two prime examples). The Olympics are¬†different ‚Äì there‚Äôs no prize money and people compete for the honour of representing their country and to achieve personal goals. Afterwards some of the competitors go on to have incredible careers, others choose to go back to a normal life, this week‚Äôs Olympic Girl is one such person.
Jenny Thompson was born in Massachusetts in 1973 and went on to become one of the most decorated Olympians in history by winning 12 medals over 4 Games. She made a name for herself at the age of 14 when she competed in the Pan-American Games where she won two medals. In 1991 she was a member of the U.S. 4 x 100 m relay team that won gold, the following year she went to Barcelona to compete in her first Olympics. Here she would win a silver medal in the 100 meter freestyle and 2 gold medals in relay competitions.
Following her success she began studying at Stanford University where she also swam for their team earning her a total of 19 NCAA titles over four years. She struggled in the Olympic Trials for the Atlanta 1996 Games which meant that she could not compete in any individual events; she did however participate in three gold winning relay teams. At the Sydney 2000 Games she had more individual success, she won a bronze medal in the 100 meter freestyle event as well as participating in the relays events where they set new world records in the 4 x 100 meter freestyle and the medley event. In Athens 2004 she was the oldest member of the Swimming team where she won two more medals in relay events. Following these Games she retired from competitive swimming with a total of 12 medals to her name (8 gold, 3 silver and 1 bronze).
During her swimming career she earned a number of accolades which resulted in her being inducted into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame in 2012. Between swimming competitions she studied medicine at Colombia University; today she is an anaesthesiologist working in Maine.
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