Olympic Success Stories
For United States Olympians, the London Games signifies the culmination of years of hard work. For many of the athletes, however, the hard work could be just beginning. If the past is any indication, a number of this year's Olympians will use the time in the international spotlight as a springboard to a successful entrepreneurial career. Here are 10 past Olympians who are now thriving in the business world.
Boxer George Foreman earned his initial stardom during the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City. It was there that he cemented himself as one of the world's top heavyweights, winning a gold medal after knocking out Jonas Čepulis in the second round of the heavyweight finals. Foreman garnered extra attention when he waved a little American flag in each corner of the ring following his win.
Foreman went on to have a long and successful boxing career that included the World Heavyweight Champion title in the 1970s and 1990s. <p>
By the time Foreman was done boxing in 1999, his business career was well under way. He had already unveiled the George Foreman Lean Mean Grilling Machine, which has now sold more than 100 million units.
And the grills were just the start. Since then, he has launched a line of environmentally safe cleaning products, a line of personal care products, a health shake called George Foreman’s Life Shake, a prescription shoe for diabetics to prevent amputations and a restaurant franchise called UFood Grille.
Haley (Cope) Clark
Haley (Cope) Clark used her success in the pool to launch her own swim club.
The California native took home a silver medal in the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens by swimming in the prelims of the 400-medley relay. In addition, she individually qualified for the finals of the 100-meter backstroke, placing eighth. Other accolades Clark earned in the pool include being named the Pac 10 Swimmer of the Year, four National Championship titles, four World Championship titles, one world record and 23 NCAA All-American titles.
When her swimming career ended, Clark looked for a way to combine her love for aquatics with her love for children.
In 2005, she launched her entrepreneurial career when she opened Water Sprites Swim School in her hometown of Chico, Calif. The facility offers swim lessons year-round for kids of all ages.
Clark now prides herself providing swim programs that are constantly evolving to keep up with the latest research and innovations.
Swimmer Josh Davis earned Olympic glory in 1996 when he was the only male in any sport from any nation to win three gold medals at the Atlanta Games. The Texas native took home the top spot in the 4x200 Relay, 4x100 Freestyle Relay and the 4x100 Medley Relay.
Four years later, Davis returned to the Olympics as the captain of the men's swim team. During the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Davis won two silver medals.
It was in between those Olympic experiences that Davis started his business career. After returning home from the Atlanta Games, Davis founded USA Swim Clinics, which provides swimming workshops across the country that feature different Olympic swimmers.
Since its inception, the company has conducted more than 1,500 clinics nationwide, with more than 30 different Olympic swimmers, Davis included.
In 2008, Davis released his first book, "The Goal and the Glory" (Regal, 2008), a collection of 60 stories about 30 different athletes and their journey to the Olympic Games.
Carrie Englert Zimmerman
Carrie Englert Zimmerman used her time as an Olympic gymnast to leap into the business world.
In 1976, Zimmerman earned a spot on the Summer Olympics team after winning the U.S. Championships on the balance beam and floor exercises. The women's gymnastics team placed sixth overall in the Montreal Games.
More than a decade after her gymnastics career ended, Zimmerman, along with her husband Curtis, founded The Zimmerman Agency, a Florida-based advertising, public relations and digital firm. It since has become the largest in the state and the third largest nationwide in hospitality.
Zimmerman's agency has worked with a number of national brands, including Aflac, The Ritz-Carlton Destination Club, Dell, Steak 'n Shake, Party City, PGA Tour, Firehouse Subs, Club Med, Nature's Own, Evamor Water and Sanderson Farms Chicken. The firm bills more than $165 million annually.
Few have dominated the Olympics like sprinter Michael Johnson did in 1996. Having already won a gold medal during the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, Johnson returned to the Olympic spotlight four years later in Atlanta hungry for more. He eventually cemented himself as the fastest man alive, winning gold medals and breaking the world records in both the 200-meter and 400-meter events.
The sprinter returned to the Olympic stage in Sydney in 2000, and ended his running career by taking home gold in the 400-meter.
After spending time as a motivational speaker and television commentator, Johnson turned his attention to the business world. In 2007, he opened the Michael Johnson Performance in McKinney, Texas. The center is a state-of-the-art training facility that provides group performance training for youth athletes to improve speed, agility, strength and stamina. It also provides specialized programs for college and professional athletes worldwide, and serves as the official training partner of the Dallas Stars, Dallas Cowboys and FC Dallas.
Ice skater Kristi Yamaguchi won the hearts of Americans during the 1992 Winter Olympics in Alberta, Canada. It was there that she won gold in the overall ladies' singles competition.
Following her Olympic stardom, Yamaguchi went on to found the Always Dream Foundation, which supports the lives of children through educational and recreational initiatives; toured the country as part of Stars on Ice; and won the sixth season of the television show "Dancing with the Stars."
Now, 20 years after her Gold medal performance, Yamaguchi is preparing to launch her business career. In September, Yamaguchi will unveil her limited-edition line of women’s activewear, Tsu.ya. The 18-piece line includes yoga pants, leggings, jackets, T-shirts and tops. The items feature fashion accents and trims, and a portion of Tsu.ya sales will go to Yamaguchi's Always Dream Foundation.
The clothes will be sold at select Lord &Taylor stores and via Tsu.ya's online store.
While he never earned a medal, skier Jeremy Bloom represented the United States at the Winter Olympics in 2002 in Salt Lake City and again in Turin, Italy in 2006.
The skier, also a football player at the University of Colorado, finished sixth in moguls at the 2006 Olympics and ninth in 2002. He also picked up 11 World Cup wins and two World Cup titles.
Following his career on the slopes, Bloom had a brief career in the NFL. While playing for the Philadelphia Eagles, Bloom completed a business entrepreneurship program at Wharton Business School, which sparked his interest in owning his own company.
In 2008, he established the nonprofit organization Wish of a Lifetime, which grants wishes to senior citizens over the age of 80. The following year, he launched MDinfo.com, a health portal creating a dialogue between medical experts and ordinary people throughout the world, and in 2010, he co-founded Integrate, a performance marketing technology and solutions provider that enables advertisers to plan, execute, track, analyze and optimize their multichannel marketing strategy.
Bloom has recently been named a “30 Under 30” by Forbes magazine in the technology space and was named one of Denver’s “Forty Under 40” business leaders.
Skier Michelle Roark's entrepreneurial career began shortly after returning home from the 2006 Olympics in Turin, Italy.
During her training for the Freestyle Moguls in the 2006 Games, in which she finished eighteenth, Roark's psychologist encouraged her to use all five of her senses when visualizing a run down the mountain. While trying to figure out the perfect "skiing" scent, Roark searched through every commercial fragrance sold.
Unhappy with them all, she put her chemical engineering education to use by developing her own. Shortly after the Turin Games, she launched launch Phi-nomenal, an all-natural perfume and body products company. The products are an alcohol-free blend that last on most people for 6 to 10 hours.
Phi-nomenal perfumes also evolve on the skin by changing over time in response to the user’s body chemistry.
In addition to selling the perfume online, in 2009 Roark opened her first flagship store in Denver.
Skier Shannon Bahrke earned Olympic glory when she won the silver medal in the moguls during the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City. Bahrke followed that up eight years later in Vancouver, winning the bronze medal and becoming the first U.S. freestyle skier to win multiple medals.
Five years later, Bahrke and her husband, Matt Happe, launched Silver Bean Coffee Company, which features their own signature "ski" blends. The company also has a line of Athlete Blends, each named after a skier, including Olympic gold medalist Billy Demong and silver medalist Jeret Peterson. For every bag of coffee sold, $1 goes back to a charity of the athlete's choice.
In 2010, Bahrke expanded the Silver Bean Coffee Company by opening its first location in Salt Lake City. The coffee also is sold online.
Gymnast Mitch Gaylord vaulted himself into American history during the 1984 Olympics when he became the first gymnast to ever score a perfect "10."
During those Games in Los Angeles, Gaylord left the U.S. Men's Gymnastics team to the gold medal and captured three individual medals, including silver in the vault competition and bronzes in the rings and parallel bars.
Gaylord used his Olympic success to help launch Gold Medal Fitness, which offers a number of workout programs. “The Melt it OFF! with Mitch" programs consist of meal plans, recipes and workout schedules for those looking to lose weight or tone and tighten their physique.
Follow Chad Brooks on Twitter @cbrooks76 or BusinessNewsDaily @BNDarticles. We're also on Facebook & Google+.