Let’s face it, some people simply hate the public bubble and enjoy a more private life. To the famous Olympic medallists, the feeling is mutual because it is hard to get out of the house without the paparazzi tagging along. Usually, the Olympic stars who disappeared in the public’s radar are those who are either retired or lived a lowkey life.
There are also instances wherein these famous athletes battled a mental issue brought about by a scandal or controversy, which led to their disappearance from the media. Moreover, some Olympic stars avoid televised interviews and press conferences.
In this article, we are going to put the spotlight once again on the Olympic stars who fell off the public’s radar. Most of these personalities are already retired and lived a normal life since their popularity in the name of sports.
Mary Rand (Track and Field Athlete)
There was a time when Mary Rand, the first British female athlete to win an Olympic gold medal, became famous because Rockstar Mick Jagger declared his attraction toward her. In an article published by Mirror, the triple medallist said, ‘Apparently, Mick Jagger said he’d like to date me. I wish he’d asked! But then again I was married to my first husband at the time and the mother of a young daughter.’
The Olympic medallist still carries the title for winning three medals in a single Games. However, come the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, Rand fell off the gold ladder, scoring only bronze in the 4x100m relay and silver in the pentathlon. She disappeared from the public’s eye after being wed to businessman John Reese. At 79, Rand can no longer stand after two hips and knee replacements.
Olga Korbut (Gymnast)
About 48 years ago, then-17-year-old Olga Korbut dazzled the world with a backward aerial somersault in the 1972 Munich Olympics. Despite her incredibly petite figure of only 4ft 11in height, she was able to stand out and score three gold medals. She was nicknamed ‘Sparrow From Minsk’ after the spectacular performance, which was then banned from the competition because of its dangerousness and difficulty.
However, the challenge went after coming back in the 1976 Olympics, when Korbut proved something of a flop, landing a silver on the beam. She then married a popular singer named Leonid Bortkevic, but their relationship ended in 2001. Now, at 64, she is living in Arizona and has become a US citizen.
Debi Thomas (Figure Skater)
The first black athlete to ever win a medal in the prestigious Winter Games is none other than Debi Thomas. She’s a gold medal winner of the 1986 World Champion and two-time US national champion. A word that could describe Thomas is phenomenal—the first skater of the African descent to reach the top ranks of an international skating competition.
Come 2014, Thomas declared bankruptcy, which led her to live in a trailer, penniless. Reports even said she had sold her medals just to pay off debt. No news about her has been reported since the bankruptcy.
Kerri Strug (Gymnast)
The 1996 gold medallist Kerri Strug showcased a remarkable floor exercise in the history of the Olympic Games with her torn ankle ligaments. She was able to help Team USA to get gold with the highest score on floor exercise and vault, even after suffering ankle damage.
Strug retired in the same year and decided to go to college and pursue higher education. She was able to earn a master’s degree in Sociology and now works for the federal government. Since then, there is no news about the gold medallist.
Sports is a big industry; that’s why athletes gain popularity, as there are millions of people who are following different types of sports, especially during the Olympics. International Games make it possible for athletes to gain more exposure around the world, hence increasing their following.
But, fame isn’t always going to stick, especially if these athletes don’t come around as expected. Although there are a lot of Olympians that are successful up to now and are making names in their respective sports, the names on this list are only a few of those who are now living as normal people after their big break in sports in the 1900s.