It may be the "hardest job in the world," according to a heartwarming new ad, but it's also the best, if you ask the moms of some Olympic hopefuls.
With 80 days to London 2012, top athletes aiming for the games visited TODAY Tuesday with their biggest cheerleaders — their moms — to talk about the trials, triumphs and tears of competing at the top of their sports.
Rita Wieber, whose daughter, 16-year old Jordyn, is the 2011 world champion in all-around gymnastics, said that 99% of this journey is a labor of love.
“There will always be ups and downs that the moms go through but it’s been great," she told Matt Lauer. "I’m very proud of her."
Rita feels like it’s her job to do the encouraging, not the pressuring. “I just be sure she’s fed and sleeping and give her all the support she needs and the coaches can do the pushing,” she said.
“My mom has been there through everything, and she’s been there through thick and thin, and she’s supported me my whole entire life and I love her,” said swimming champ Ryan Lochte, who's aiming to make his third Olympic team, of his mom, Ike.
By the time Ryan was finished speaking, Ike was overwhelmed with emotion. “And you’re crying already,” Lauer said. “Imagine what’s going to happen in London. How are you going to survive, Ike?”
“I hide!” she said. “No one ever sees me.” Ike said she’s the type of person who shows her emotions all the time, so she makes herself scarce when her son swims. “I want to do that and I don’t want to be in front of all these people. I just want to cry by myself.”
That devotion and emotion is reflected in a new ad from Procter & Gamble called "Best Job" that celebrates Olympians' moms and their sacrifices. It's gone viral online, with nearly 3 million YouTube views.
Every time Ike Lochte watches it, she cries. “I just take it for granted, that’s my job and I love my job,” she told TODAY.com. (And yes, she cried just talking about the ad.) “I think every mother, every parent can put themselves in that perspective. I was talking the other night with a man whose son is in Little League, and it’s the same. You don’t have to be an Olympian to feel it.”
“We (moms) have gone through everything with them, all their sacrifices,” Ike said, adding that Ryan, while competitive, is also really easy-going. “I think he takes losing a lot easier than I do.”
Looking around the green room before appearing on TODAY, she dabbed her eyes, smiled proudly as her son gave interviews, and said, “This is just so cool.”
Teri Johnson, mother to gymnast Shawn Johnson, told TODAY.com the ad strikes a chord familiar to all moms, whether your child competes in the Olympics or the county championships. “It doesn’t matter," she said, "It’s your child. We all have the same feeling.”
The best part of being an Olympic mom, said Teri, is getting to spend lots of time with her daughter. “Just to be with Shawn is great," she said. "She’s always here, there and everywhere, or at practice — I will take any opportunity to spend time with her.”
Jodie Allen of Procter & Gamble joined the families on the plaza with a special announcement. Nearly 800 moms of Olympians and Paralympians will be gifted $1000 "to get to London," Allen said, and are invited to visit a family house in London, where in addition to meals and other support services, hair stylists and makeup artists will be waiting to pamper moms.
As Ike Lochte dabbed her eyes, Lauer suggested the family home could be stocked with mascara.
“We’ll make you up every time, Ike,” said Allen.
(Full disclosure: Procter & Gamble is a sponsor of TODAY in London. Our tears at this commercial, though? Totally unsponsored.)
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