Athletes’ parents see victory and defeat, on an endless loop

By Maura Judkis

It’s tough to be a parent of an Olympian. There are the years of shuttling your kid to expensive practices, the injuries and setbacks, the nervousness of watching your offspring compete on an international stage. Add to that a throughly modern twist: the TV clips that catch you in one of the most emotionally fraught moments of your life, replaying on every Tumblr in perpetuity.

Take, for instance, poor Mrs. Phelps. For a split second there, it looked like her son had defeated South Africa’s Chad le Clos in the 200 butterfly. A split second later, she realized that wasn’t the case. And now her reaction will play on in gif form, forever:

Or, take, gymnast John Orozco’s mother during the men’s team gymnastics events, which resulted in a fifth place finish for the U.S.

Still, no parental helicoptering in this Olympic Games will top that of gymnast Aly Raisman’s parents as they watched their daughter compete to qualify in the women’s all-around event. Give them their own reality show already, a la “Toddlers and Tiaras!” They are a hoot.

But sometimes parental reaction clips go beyond funny pictures of nervous parents rooting for their kids. Sometimes, they’re downright heartwarming, as in this reaction from Chad le Clos’s dad, when his son beat Phelps:

Aww.

(Hat tip to Atlantic for the idea to use gifs. Gifs courtesy of The Big Lead, SB Nation, SB Nation, and Gifulmination.)