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After The Games: What Olympic Heroes Are Up To Now

Greg Louganis spends his time with Dr. Schivago, Captain Woof Blitzer, Nipper, Gryffindor, Dobby, and Hedwig

The 2016 Rio Games are coming to a close Sunday night, but names like Biles, Bolt, Manuel, and Ledecky will live on. Each Olympics christens its own class of icons – athletes who transcend quadrennial competition to become near-mythological figures. While still walking among us, they become public memories. Over the last 50 years, many have entered the ranks. Here’s what some of those athletes accomplished after they left the medal stand.

Tommie Smith, USA (1968)

Image via Angelo Cozzi (cc)


Smith, who originally planned to boycott the Mexico City games to protest white minority rule in South Africa and Rhodesia, made history when he raised a Black Power fist on the podium after winning gold in the 200-meter dash. He went on to play three seasons for the Cleveland Browns and taught sociology at Oberlin and Santa Monica College for decades. Today he's retired in Georgia.

John Carlos, USA (1968)

Image via Angelo Cozzi (cc)

Earning bronze in Mexico City’s 200-meter dash, Carlos raised his fist with Smith, completing the iconic image. After the games, the sprinter had a stint in the Canadian Football League, worked for the United States Olympic Committee, and coached high school track in Palm Springs. Still politically active, Carlos participated in the Global Human Rights Torch Rally protesting China’s human rights abuses in 2008, and spoke at Occupy Wall Street in 2011.

Věra Čáslavská, CZE (1960, 1964, 1968)

Image via Dutch National Archives (cc)

Čáslavská dominated gymnastics in Tokyo and Mexico City, winning individual all-around gold both summers. The Czech gymnast also turned her medal ceremony into protest in 1968, amidst the invasion of Czechoslovakia, when she pointedly bowed her head every time the Soviet national anthem played. After the fall of the Soviet Union, Čáslavská worked as a Presidential adviser and ran the Czech Olympic Committee. She still lives in Prague.

Mark Spitz, USA (1968, 1972)

(cc)

Spitz was the world’s best swimmer in Mexico City and Munich, winning nine gold medals, mustache and all. After the games, Spitz racked up endorsements, bought a Ferrari, and started a Beverly Hills real estate company. Today he travels the lecture circuit and throws occasional shade at Michael Phelps.

Nadia Comăneci, ROU (1976, 1980)

Comăneci broke the scoreboard when her uneven bars routine earned a perfect 10.00 in Montreal—literally, the manufacturer didn’t think it was possible. That year, the 14-year-old Romanian gymnast took home individual all-around gold. After her coaches defected to the United States in ‘81, Comăneci lived under government supervision until she defected herself in ‘89, weeks before the revolution. In her second life, she’s been a diplomatic counsul, the vice president of the Muscular Dystrophy Association, and a contestant on The Apprentice. She currently serves on the Special Olympics’ board of directors and is married to fellow gymnast and two-time Olympic gold medalist Bart Conner.

Caitlyn Jenner, USA (1976)

Image via Ricardo Thomas (cc)

When Jenner won the men's decathlon in Montreal as Bruce Jenner, seizing the title back from the Soviets, she became a national symbol, stamped on Wheaties boxes and birthed into Hollywood. After years of cameos and reality show appearances, she’s now perhaps best known as the stepfather of American television’s first family. Jenner came out as a transgender woman last year and is a vocal advocate for trans rights.

Mary Lou Retton, USA (1984)

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Five weeks after a major knee injury, Retton won individual all-around gold in Los Angeles, scoring perfect 10s on floor exercise and vault, entering America’s heart. Retton became an outspoken Republican in her post-gymnastics career, campaigning hard for Ronald Reagan and speaking at the party’s 2004 national convention. Today, two of her daughters are college gymnasts.

Greg Louganis, USA (1976, 1984, 1988)

Image via Flickr by findingmuse

Louganis swept the diving pool in Los Angeles and Seoul, winning gold both years on the springboard and platform. In 1995, he came out as gay and HIV-positive in an interview with Barbara Walters, and in recent years has advocated widely for LGBT rights. Louganis also competes in dog agility competitions with his pets: Dr. Schivago, Captain Woof Blitzer, Nipper, Gryffindor, Dobby, and Hedwig.

Edwin Moses, USA (1976, 1984, 1988)

Image via International Olympic Committee

Moses won gold in the 400-meter hurdles in Montreal and Los Angeles, but left his legacy on the Olympics as an administrator: He spearheaded a campaign to institute Olympic athlete subsidies and eligibility reforms that remain in place today, and also helped develop track and field’s anti-drug policies. For the last 15 years, he’s directed the Laureus World Sports Academy, which builds community sports-based development programs in underserved communities around the world.

Jackie Joyner-Kersee, USA (1984, 1988, 1992, 1996)

(cc)

Despite serious asthma problems, Joyner-Kersee won back-to-back hepathlon golds in Seoul and Barcelona; she still holds the world’s highest all-time score. In retirement, she played in the short-lived American Basketball League, started an athletic resources non-profit in Illinois, and helped found the charity Athletes for Hope. She also is set to be part of the U.S. delegation at Sunday’s closing ceremony.

Carl Lewis, USA (1984, 1988, 1992, 1996)

Image via The University of Houston (cc)

Though haunted by doping allegations reported in 2003, Lewis was America’s greatest male track and field athlete of the last half-century. In his post-sports life, after a failed singing career, he became an actor. In 2011, Lewis tried to run for New Jersey Senate, but was disqualified for not meeting the state’s residency requirement.

Kerri Strug, USA (1992, 1996)

Image via U.S. National Archives

Strug clinched team gold for the Magnificent Seven in Atlanta with her vault routine on an injured ankle—coach Béla Károly famously carried her to the medal stand. After gymnastics, Strug worked in the White House, the Treasury Department, and the Justice Department under George W. Bush. She still runs marathons.

Jenny Thompson, USA (1992, 1996, 2000, 2004)

Image via Team USA

Across four Olympics, Thompson won 12 medals and eight golds, making her one of the most decorated swimmers ever. Two years after the Athens Games, she received her medical degree from Columbia and today works as an anesthesiologist in Maine.

Sports

The healthcare systems in the United States and the United Kingdom couldn't be more different.

The UK's National Health Service is the largest government-run healthcare system in the world and the US's is largest private sector system.

Almost all essential health services in the UK are free, whereas in America cost can vary wildly based on insurance, co pays and what the hospitals and physicians choose to charge.

A medical bill in the US

One of the largest differences is cost. The average person in the UK spends £2,989 ($3915) per year on healthcare (most of which is collected through taxes), whereas the average American spends around $10,739 a year.

So Americans should obviously be getting better care, right? Well, the average life expectancy in the UK is higher and infant mortality rate is lower than that in the US.

RELATED: The World Health Organization declares war on the out of control price of insulin

Plus, in the U.S., only 84% of people are covered by private insurance, Medicare or Medicaid. Sixteen percent of the population are forced to pay out of pocket.

In the UK, everyone is covered unless they are visiting the country or an undocumented resident.

Prescription drugs can cost Americans an arm and a leg, but in the UK, prescriptions or either free or capped at £8.60 ($11.27).

via Wikimedia Commons

The one drawback to the NHS system is responsiveness. In the UK people tend to wait longer for inessential surgeries, doctor's appointments, and in emergency rooms. Whereas, the US is ranked as the most responsive country in the world.

RELATED: Alarmingly high insulin prices are forcing Americans to flock to Canada to buy the drug

The New York Times printed a fair evaluation of the UK's system:

The service is known for its simplicity: It is free at the point of use to anyone who needs it. Paperwork is minimal, and most patients never see a bill. … No one needs to delay medical treatment until he or she can afford it, and virtually everyone is covered. …

According to data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United States spent 17.2 percent of its economic output on health care in 2016, compared with 9.7 percent in Britain. Yet Britain has a higher life expectancy at birth and lower infant mortality.

Citizens in each country have an interesting perspective on each other's healthcare systems. UK citizens think it's inhumane for Americans have to pay through the nose when they're sick or injured. While Americans are skeptical of socialist medicine.

A reporter from Politics Joe hit the streets of London and asked everyday people what they think Americans pay for healthcare and they were completely shocked.

Health

Bans on plastic bags and straws can only go so far. Using disposable products, like grabbing a plastic fork when you're on the go, can be incredibly convenient. But these items also contribute to our growing plastic problem.

Fortunately, you can cut down on the amount of waste you produce by cutting down on disposable products. And even more fortunately, there are sustainable (and cute) replacements that won't damage the environment.

Coconut bowls


Cocostation

Who says sustainable can't also be stylish? These cute coconut bowls were handmade using reclaimed coconuts, making each piece one of a kind. Not only are they organic and biodegradable, but they're also durable, in case your dinner parties tend to get out of hand. The matching ebony wood spoons were polished with the same coconut oil as the bowls.

Cocostation Set of 2 Vietnamese Coconut Bowls and Spoons, $14.99; at Amazon

Solar powered phone charger

Dizaul

Why spend time looking around for an outlet when you can just harness the power of the sun? This solar powered phone charger will make sure your phone never dies as long as you can bask in the sun's rays. As an added bonus, this charger was made using eco-friendly silicone rubber. It's win-win all around.

Dizaul Solar Charger, 5000mAh Portable Solar Power Bank, $19.95; at Amazon, $19.95; at Amazon

Herb garden kit

Planter Pro

Put some green in your life with this herb planter. The kit comes with everything you need to get a garden growing, including a moisture meter that helps you determine if your herbs are getting the right amount of food to flourish. All the seeds included are certified to be non-GMO and non-hybrids, meaning you can have fresh, organic herbs right at your fingertips.

Planter Pro's Herb Garden Cedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazonedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazon

Reusable Keurig cups

K & J

Keurig cups are convenient, but they also create a ton of plastic waste. These Keurig-compatible plastic cups are an easy way to cut down on the amount of trash you create without cutting down on your caffeine. Additionally, you won't have to keep on buying K Cups, which means you'll be saving money and the environment.

K&J Reusable Filter Cups, $8.95 for a set of 4,; at Amazon

Low-flow shower head

Speakman

Low-flow water fixtures can cut down your water consumption, which saves you money while also saving one of the Earth's resources. This shower head was designed with a lighter flow in mind, which means you'll be able to cut down on water usage without feeling like you're cutting down on your shower.

Speakman Low Flow Shower Head, $14.58; at Amazon

Bamboo safety razor

Zomchi

Instead of throwing away a disposable razor every time you shave, invest in an eco-friendly, reusable one. This unisex shaver isn't just sustainable, it's also sharp-looking, which means it would make a great gift for the holidays.

Zomchi Safety Razor, $16.99; at Amazon

The Planet
Instagram / Leonardo DiCaprio

This August, the world watched as the Amazon burned. There were 30,901 individual fires that lapped at the largest rainforest in the world. While fires can occur in the dry season due to natural factors, like lightning strikes, it is believed that the widespread fires were started by loggers and farmers to clear land. Brazil's president, Jair Bolsonaro, cites a different cause: the actor Leonardo DiCaprio.

DiCaprio wasn't accused of hanging out in the rainforest with a box of matches, however President Bolsonaro did accuse the actor of funding nonprofit organizations that allegedly set fires to raise donations.

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