10 Greatest Olympian throwback photos
6. Toddler Simone Manuel, future swimmer
Simone Manuel was just a cute toddler in a swimsuit and goggles for this picture that throws it way back in time.
Manuel eventually became a four-time medal-winner at the Rio Olympics. She took home golds in the 100m freestyle, 4x100m medley and silvers in the 4x100m freestyle relay and 50m freestyle.
The 20-year-old Sugar Land, Texas native also made history by becoming the first female African-American to win a gold medal in an individual swimming event, inspiring many other young black women to pursue swimming just like Manuel.
7. 9-year-old Katie Ledecky with Michael Phelps
THROWBACK: 9-year-old Katie Ledecky was all smiles while getting Michael Phelps' autograph!
(NYT/Ledecky Family) pic.twitter.com/AXQEQLg0p5
— NBC Olympics (@NBCOlympics) August 14, 2016
Back before she became a star in the 2016 Summer Games in Rio, Katie Ledecky was just a young kid seeking the autograph of one of her swimming heroes. Ledecky was nine years old at the time of this photo with Michael Phelps. 10 years later, the two star athletes combined to win 11 medals in Rio, highlighted by nine golds. Both took home golds in the 4x200m freestyle relay and ended up sharing a cover on Sports Illustrated along with Simone Biles.
The two even humorously combined to recreate the photo 10 years later.
8. Young Simone Biles and Laurie Hernandez
This throwback photo of Team USA gymnasts Simone Biles and Laurie Hernandez is just too cute. Long before teaming up for gold at the Rio Olympics, Biles and Hernandez had dreams of one day being Olympians. They ended up combining to make up 40 percent of “The Final Five” — the nickname for the 2016 US Women’s Gymnastics Team because they were Marta Karolyi’s final gymnastics team ahead of the coach’s impending retirement.
Biles went on to enjoy one of the most successful Olympics for a gymnast ever. She won gold medals in the team, all-around, vault and floor exercise, and she took home bronze on the balance beam. Laurie, at just 16, won gold in the team event and silver on the balance beam.
9. Young Joseph Schooling with Michael Phelps
— Eldes Tran (@eldestran) August 12, 2016
This photo of Joseph Schooling with Michael Phelps is one of the ultimate examples of how wild a throwback picture can be. In 2008, Schooling was just an awkward glasses-wearing 12 or 13-year-old aspiring swimmer. He had met Phelps when the American swimmer was in Singapore for a training camp ahead of the Olympics in Beijing.
“They came to the country club that I trained at,” Schooling said via The Guardian. It was early in the morning, and he was working on an essay. “Everyone just rushed up and was like “it’s Michael Phelps! It’s Michael Phelps!’ and I really wanted a picture.”
“It was very early in the morning,” he remembered, “and I was so shell shocked, I couldn’t really open my mouth.”
Schooling, who credits Phelps as his hero and the reason he wanted to become a great swimmer, is the person who prevented Phelps from taking home all gold medals in Rio. Schooling, 21, won the 100m butterfly with an incredible time of 50.39 seconds. Phelps finished in a 3-way tie for second.
10. Little Katie Ledecky with Michael Jordan
Michael Jordan got 2 gold medals. The little girl he's holding now has 3. It's Katie Ledecky. pic.twitter.com/W2PQGuckVL
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) August 10, 2016
The throwback photo of Katie Ledecky and Michael Phelps was one thing, but this photo may be even better.
Ledecky was just a little girl when she took this photo with Michael Jordan, who remains one of the most recognizable athletes in the world. MJ won two gold medals playing basketball at the Olympics, including his victory at the 1992 Summer Games in Barcelona with the “Dream Team.”
Who knew at the time that photo was taken that by the age of 19, Ledecky would have doubled Jordan’s gold medal total? Ledecky won gold in the 200, 400 and 800m freestyle races, as well as gold in the 4x200m freestyle relay and silver in the 4x100m freestyle relay.