The Olympic moms who show you do have time to exercise

Posted August 14

Ten members of Team USA are mothers, proving that having a family isn't an excuse to not work out.

Forty-two Olympians are fathers, and they're inspirational, too, but none of them had their stomachs stretched to the size of a punch balloon for the privilege of being a dad. So here's to four of the mothers.

Kerri Walsh Jennings, a member of the beach volleyball team and a four-time Olympian, has three children with her husband, Casey Jennings, who also happens to be a volleyball player.

She told Josh Peter of USA Today that the couple’s marriage was in trouble a few years ago, but they recovered with the help of a therapist who said, “If one of you has the tip of your pinky toe in (to the marriage), you have hope.”

Six months of therapy felt like six years, but it was worth it, Jennings told Peter.

“It’s never going to be perfect, but it’s awesome right now. With all the things that we went through, I wouldn’t trade a thing to be where we are today,” she said.

Kristin Armstrong is not the former wife of Lance Armstrong (that Kristin Armstrong is an athlete, too, just not an Olympian), and she's a world champion cyclist in her own right.

Being a mother was so important to Armstrong that she briefly retired in 2009 because she was concerned that the physical strains of being an elite athlete might affect her ability to conceive. But James Raia reported for ESPN that once she got pregnant with her son, Armstrong got back on her bike and rode throughout her pregnancy.

Motherhood has helped her to be more focused and to adhere to a strict training schedule so she has plenty of time to be with her son.

"I don't have any flexibility about debating when I'm going to go (ride). When I come home after three or four hours, it's game on. It's mommy time," she told ESPN.

This Armstrong's fourth Olympics. She won gold medals in 2008 and 2012.

Brittney Reese is a three-time Olympian and the indoor American record holder in the long jump, but she still had time to tweet about her son just days before the opening ceremonies in Rio.

Brittney Reese (@DaLJBeast) | Twitter

Brittney Reese (@DaLJBeast) | Twitter

Reese, 29, is passionate not only about her own son, but children everywhere as well, especially in her home state of Mississippi where she holds speed and agility camps for kids, according to a profile published online at She believes athletes, as role models, have an obligation to help children transcend their circumstances.

“For me, I was raised in Mississippi and we all know how that is, but I never had anybody tell me I couldn’t do something,” Reese told writer Maya A. Jones.

“If you told me I couldn’t do it, I’ll go do it anyway. Anything is possible, just reach for the stars," she said.

Besides being a mother of two, Enkelejda Shehaj has another distinction. At age 46, she is about to compete in the Olympics for the second time, more than two decades after her first appearance.

Shehaj, who was born in Albania, will compete in women's sport pistol. According to Women's Outdoor News, she immigrated to Michigan in 1999 to build a better future for her 5-year-old daughter. But her first marriage ended in divorce, interfering with her Olympic dreams.

"Being a single mom and having a daughter to raise, I had to make a living. Shooting was put on the back burner," she said in a profile in Women's Outdoor News.

But after Shehaj, of Naples, Florida, remarried and had another child, she figured out how to be a mom, run the restaurant she owns with her husband and be an Olympian, too.

"When you find something you love to do, you always find time, whether it's late at night or early in the morning," she said.

The other moms who will compete in the 2016 Summer Games, according to the U.S. Olympic Committee, are Dana Vollmer, Kelly Griffin, Kim Rhode, Chaunte Lowe, Gwen Berry and Nia Ali.


TWITTER: @grahamtoday

1 Comment

Please with your account to comment on this story. You also will need a Facebook account to comment.

Oldest First
View all
  • Skip Harris Aug 14, 7:45 a.m.
    user avatar

    That's great and everything but their full time job is to workout and practice. Most full time moms don't have live-in nannies like most Olympic athletes so that they can devote their time to exercise. Way to add more pressure to the already overworked stay at home moms out there!