Olympic Couples: These 7 Love Stories Will Make You Swoon
The Olympics are designed to unite people. It's good that some athletes take this mission literally. In addition to the medals, they take away something else — love. Let’s talk about our favorite Olympic love stories, shall we?
Nordic Alliance: Daria Domracheva and Ole Einar Bjørndalen
The world’s main biathlon union started at the Olympics. Our favorite Olympic couple met for the first time in Vancouver, later became a couple in Sochi, in Pyeongchang Bjørndalen became Daria’s coach, and later in Beijing, they trained the Chinese national team together. The Belarusian biathlete and the legend of Norwegian sports have been close since the 2006/2007 World Cup and got married in 2016, right before the birth of their daughter Ksenia. In 2018, the biathlete of the Winter Olympics announced her retirement and since then has only appeared in coaching positions. The couple has 19 medals for two, despite the fact that by the time they met, Bjørndalen was the titled king of biathlon, and Daria was perceived as an inexperienced newbie. Domracheva and Bjørndalen are not just the IT couple of the Olympic Games, they’re also soulmates and perhaps living proof that having things in common is very important in a relationship.
Royal Hunt: Charlene Wittstock and Prince Albert II
Prince Albert of Monaco (the son of Prince Rainier III and famous actress Grace Kelly) participated in the Winter Olympics five times as a bobsledder, but he never won gold. Instead, he won the attention of South African athlete and swimming champion Charlene Wittstock. The couple met in 2000 at a swimming competition in Monaco and made their first official public appearance in 2006 at the Olympic Games in Turin — when their Olympic love story began. In 2008, Charlene suffered a shoulder injury and had to leave sports, and in 2011 the royal wedding took place. At the same time, Princess Charlene of Monaco became the ambassador of the Special Olympics. The royal union of Monaco had two children — twins Prince Jacques and Princess Gabriella.
Lovebirds: Megan Rapinoe and Sue Bird
The most romantic Olympic love story became public thanks to Instagram. The captain of the US women's national football team Megan Rapinoe and basketball player Sue Bird posted a romantic photo, with Rapinoe on one knee putting a ring on her sweetheart — the public took it as an official engagement announcement. They quickly became the most famous Olympic couple. The athletes met at the 2016 Olympics and have not parted since. Megan has won the World Championship twice and won the Olympics as part of the US national team, and Sue has won the Olympics four times.
- At the Sydney Olympics in 2000, 70,000 contraceptives were prepared for the Olympic Village — that turned out to be not enough, and the organizers had to provide a batch of 20,000 more.
- In 2012, a dating incident took place: as soon as athletes and tourists began to arrive for the London Olympics, Grindr stopped working — according to some, the app couldn’t handle all the traffic.
- During the Winter Games in Beijing in 2022, Grindr disappeared from Chinese app stores. This is how the Chinese authorities reacted to the LGBTIQ+ community influx in the history of the Olympics.
- At the Tokyo Olympics, a mandatory distance of 2 meters was established between athletes. Nonetheless, 160,000 contraceptives were distributed to the participants.
It’s complicated: Elena Berezhnaya and Steven Cousins
The skaters met at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City, where Elena, paired with Anton Sikharulidze, won gold medals. In 2003, the athletes decided to leave professional sports, and Elena focused on family life. She got together with British eight-time champion Steven Cousins, and gave birth to son Tristan and daughter Sofia-Diana. Steven was in no hurry to formalize their relationship, focusing on his work and teaching choreography. He successfully performed in Stars On Ice, simultaneously breeding rumors about his affairs with the show participants. In 2014, Berezhnaya and Cousins split up. It’s all so complicated when it comes to Russian figure skaters, though.
Pride stars: Georgia Simmerling and Stephanie Labbé
Canadian athletes are known not only for their sporting achievements (of which there are many) but also for the active support of athletes from the LGBTQ+ community. Both Canadians are openly gay. Having met at the Rio Olympics in 2016, they made their first public appearance as a couple in Tokyo, thus making history at the Olympic Games. Simmerling is a unique athlete who performs at the highest level in several disciplines at once: track cycling, alpine skiing, and freestyle. Labbé is the goalkeeper of the women's National Soccer League, who won bronze at the Rio Games. As a member of the North Carolina Courage team in 2019, she won the regular tournament (NWSL Shield) and the main championship prize of the strongest American professional league.
Together forever: Hans Peter Minderhoud and Edward Gal
This pair is a symbol of the Netherlands Olympic Equestrian team. Athletes have been performing together for more than ten years. Thirteen years ago, they went public as a couple. Gal was a medalist at the 2012 Olympic Games and became a world champion many times, Minderhoud won silver in Beijing in 2008. Athletes say that the coming out did not affect their career achievements or relations with the team and the Committee in any way. They’re happy to give interviews, openly discussing any topics and emphasizing that common interests and sports rivalry only strengthen their love.
Love for show: Alena Zavarzina and Vic Wild
In 2014 in Sochi, snowboarders were watched by journalists from all over the world. These two were the brightest and most noticeable couple of the Olympics. By that time, the athletes were already married — their relationship began at the World Cup in 2009, and the wedding took place in 2011. The famous Olympic couple met at the right time: during the preparation for the Cup, Alena was recovering from a knee injury and attended training on crutches, and Vic was experiencing a depressive state due to professional failures and loss of funding. The romance flared up brightly, and fans watched every step of the lovers on Instagram. The athletes began joint preparations for the Olympics and showed incredible results. Zavarzina took bronze, and Wild took gold in snowboarding and in the team competition of the Russian national team. At the 2018 Olympics, the athletes performed more modestly and immediately after that decided to end their professional careers. Unfortunately, their marriage also ended shortly after this turn of events. But it was a great love story, wasn’t it?