Olympic Standouts

For two weeks during August, the world came together in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for the 2016 Olympic Games. While the NBC coverage focused mainly on big names like Michael Phelps, Usain Bolt and the Final Five, over 10,500 accomplished athletes from around the world competed in all the various disciplines.

Among those 10,500 competitors, the United States team accounted for 554 and won over 120 medals, 46 of which were gold. But who besides Phelps and the core of the United States’ Swimming Team earned Olympic medals? These are two underrated American Olympic gold medalists you should know.

Helen Maroulis

Maroulis, an American wrestler, competed in the 53-kilogram wrestling final against three-time defending Olympic gold medalist Saori Yoshida of Japan and defeated her, winning America’s first women’s wrestling medal since the sport was expanded to include women before the 2004 Athens Games.

After her win, Maroulis received congratulatory messages from women ranging from Democratic Presidential Nominee Hillary Clinton to Olympic bronze medalist and former Mixed Martial Arts champion Ronda Rousey.

In an interview with Team U.S.A. following her win, Maroulis emphasized her hopes to continue to compete at the Olympic level at the 2020 Tokyo Games and to inspire other young female wrestlers.

“I hope this generates change and growth in women’s wrestling.” Maroulis said. “That’s always been my goal, to give back to the sport that gave so much to me.”

Gwen Jorgensen

Jorgensen competed in London on the Olympic stage for the first time in 2012, finishing in 38th place, but at her second Summer Games in 2016 she won the first Olympic gold medal in triathlon for the United States. Triathlon, which debuted at the Olympics during the 2000 Sydney Games, consists of a 0.93- mile swim, a 25-mile cycle and a 6.2-mile run.

Jorgensen graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 2008 and competed for the university’s cross country, track and eld and swimming teams. Six years ago while still at Wisconsin, the United States Triathlon Collegiate Recruitment Program recruited Jorgensen to start competing in triathlons.

Since her first triathlon in 2010, Jorgensen has collected a plethora of titles, including the 2014 and 2015 World Title. Jorgensen hopes that her win will help show young Americans how great of a sport triathlon is.

Maroulis and Jorgensen have a combined 191,600 followers on Instagram. Boomer Phelps, the three-month-old son of Michael Phelps, has 706,000 followers. That says it all.