Olympians Talk About the First People To Believe in Them: Their Parents

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olympics-2012-carmelita-jeter-gi.jpgSoon enough, Olympic Village will open, the ceremonies will begin, and the eyes of the world will be squarely focused on our greatest athletes at the Summer 2012 Olympics in London. But as they run, dive and swim their way into history the competitors will be seeking motivation from memories of the unsung heroes behind every Olympian: Their parents.

"My parents have always been really supportive, whether it was track, basketball or anything else I pursued," sprinter Carmelita Jeter tells Zap2it. "Months after I joined the track team in High School, my father asked me 'Are you on the track team now? Guess we're going to have to get you some spikes.'"

"Small gestures such as that," she added, "showed that he believed in me."

"My parents wanted me to learn to swim, so they taught me at a young age. However, swimming wasn't enough when I saw the diving board at the pool at Ventura College. All I wanted to do was jump off that board," remembers Troy Dumais, an Olympic diver who will once again return to the Olympics after previously representing the U.S. in 2000, '04 and '08.

"I wasn't allowed to jump off or be in the deep end until I passed every swimming test, but my mom and dad worked with me to learn to swim and dive any time I wanted to go swimming -- which was all the time."

"My mom and dad drove up to 2 hours each way, 7 days a week, for 15 years so I could dive and become the athlete I am today," he says of their commitment. "I owe everything to their hard work and dedication, becoming the athlete, competitor and 4-time Olympian I am today."

Gymnast John Orozco shares a similar story of sacrifice. "My mom used to drive me to practice every day. It was a long commute, an hour and forty-five minutes each way, and she'd stay there for four hours to watch me," he marveled. "My Mom was committed, she made sure I was there every day; whether it was a snowstorm or whatever, she knew what it meant to me."

"My parents are the perfect athlete parents in my opinion," insists swimmer Ariana Kukors, another Olympian we'll soon see in London. "They have never forced me to swim and have always been loving and supportive no matter what place I come in."

"I began swimming at an early age because we had a boat and my parents wanted us to be water safe," she continues, "But every time they put me in a life jacket, I would scream uncontrollably until we returned to land and they took it off me. For that reason, we went out on the boat less and less, and they eventually ended up selling it."

"To this day," Ariana laughs, "my dad still jokes that I owe him a boat."

As gymnast Aly Raisman tells us, such parents have always been there for the Olympians -- and soon enough, it will be time for all those long drives, selfless sacrifices and unwavering shows of support to pay off. "My parents are always so supportive and so helpful; I am so thankful to have such amazing parents."

"They love me no matter what, they are proud of me whether I finish first, or dead last," explained Raisman, a three-time member of the US national gymnastics team. "I always know that I can count on them for advice, they always guide me in the right direction."

"When I compete in London I not only want to do well for myself and my country," she adds, "but also for my parents."
Photo/Video credit: Getty Images