Back before they were stars and famous athletes, those who competed at the Olympics and won gold medals for their country were just aspiring dreamers. Maybe they one day wanted to win gold. Maybe they one day wanted to be like their hero. But they all had dreams and began training at an early age to achieve them.
We know what these successful athletes look like now, but let’s take a look at what they used to look like too.
1. Michael Phelps at age 15
— Dan Rodricks (@DanRodricks) August 10, 2016
Michael Phelps was a mere Olympic “hopeful” from Baltimore when this photo was taken by the Baltimore Sun. That was before Phelps, 31, had even won his first Olympic medal.
Phelps went on to become the most decorated Olympian all-time with 28 medals, including 23 golds. His first Olympics experience came in 2000 when he was a member of the swimming team for the Summer Games in Sydney. He placed 5th in the 200m butterfly then. He went on to win three golds and a silver in the 200m fly event in future Olympics.
Phelps’ Olympics success includes 8 medals (six golds) in Athens; eight medals (all golds) in Beijing; six medals (four golds) in London; and six medals (five golds) in Rio.
As a bonus, here’s a June 2001 interview Phelps did with WJZ in Baltimore:
2. Simone Biles in 2004
— Simone Biles (@Simone_Biles) July 22, 2016
Here’s a throwback photo Biles shared on social media that appears to be from Christmas 2004, which would have made Biles around seven years old.
Who knew that Biles, just a dreamer at the time, would go on to become possibly the greatest gymnast ever? That’s how many are regarding her after she won five medals in Rio, including four golds. The 19-year-old Texan has won a total of 19 medals in both Olympics and world championships, making her the most decorated American gymnast ever.
Biles needs three medals at the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo to surpass Shannon Miller for having the most Olympic medals in US gymnastics history.
3. Young Usain Bolt before he was an international sensation