For many Olympians, it’s right back to work after the Games

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2016-8-21 maya dirado

RIO DE JANEIRO — The Olympics are done, and for diver Abby Johnston four years of hard work and 17 days of intense madness is over. She needs a vacation. She won’t be getting one.

Within 24 hours of landing back on American soil, Johnston, 26, will be in class at Duke, where she is a third-year medical student.

While some athletes are fortunate enough to follow up their Rio experience with a well-deserved rest, many will be back in the workplace or classroom this week, suddenly transported from the magic of the Olympic bubble straight back into real life.

“It is going to be a bit of a whirlwind,” said Johnston, who must also squeeze planning her wedding to Duke assistant football coach Sam McGrath into her already-packed schedule.

Many Olympians are full-time exponents of their sport, but others, especially those in disciplines that do not pay particularly well, have day jobs. Often their employers already have given them significant amounts of time off to train for and compete at the Games, so once the big show is over, it is time to get back to the office.

Gerek Meinhardt had a strong Olympics, helping the U.S. men’s fencing team win bronze in the foil event. Meinhardt is scheduled to arrive in the USA on Monday. On Tuesday, he will be at the San Francisco base for Deloitte, where he works as an advisory consultant.

“I am actually glad to be getting back to it,” Meinhardt said. “I have been away a lot and the company has given me a lot of support, so I am looking forward to being at work again.

“Of course it is a very different environment to Rio, but it will be cool to take the medal in and celebrate with my co-workers.”

Some athletes switch off completely from work matters during competition. Not soMaya DiRado, the American swimmer who took a surprise gold in the 200-meter backstroke (plus three other medals) in what was her final international competition.

MEDAL COUNT

  • United States
    121
    46
    37
    38
  • China
    70
    26
    18
    26
  • Great Britain
    67
    27
    23
    17

DiRado starts a new job with Atlanta management and consulting firm McKinsey and Co. after the Games and on the morning of her gold medal swim, in which she beat Hungarian swim star Katinka Hosszu, she buried herself in human resources paperwork to prepare for her impending role.

“It wasn’t normal I guess, but it needed to be done and it helped take my mind off things,” DiRado said. “I think it helped.”

The U.S. team has many student athletes who are headed for the classroom. Even winning a gold medal doesn’t buy you time off. Shooter Ginny Thrasher is back at West Virginia, studying engineering. Lilly King is headed back to Indiana, where she is a physical education major.

Even pro athletes don’t get a rest. Andy Murray backed up winning Olympic men’s tennis gold, by reaching the final of another tournament in Cincinnati, which was due to finish just before the closing ceremony in Rio, more than 5,000 miles away.

“We get pretty good at managing our time,” Murray said. “You have to.”

2016 OLYMPICS: SCENES FROM RIO DE JANEIRO

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