2. Kristin Armstrong – Road Cycling
Kristin Armstrong came out of retirement to defend her 2008 Olympic gold medal in the cycling individual time trial. She did just that on Aug. 1 in London, but this year she had extra motivation: her son Lucas.
After she won the 2009 World Championship time trial, Ms. Armstrong retired from cycling to raise a family with husband Joe Savola. She took a year off when her son Lucas was born, but she decided to return to cycling in 2010.
Armstrong said she struggled to find the balance between having an infant and training for international competition.
"It was very hard at first, not only physically but mentally – the guilt that I had as a mom,” she said in a USA Today article. “Waking up and leaving my baby to go train was a lot of times, a sick feeling. 'Am I really doing this? Is it right? What will people think of me?' Now I talk to other women who have gone through this, and it's normal. Now I see it's a good thing, the break that Lucas has from me and I have (from him). It makes us much happier."
Before becoming a road cyclist in 2002, Kristin Armstrong was a professional triathlete, competing at the 1999 Ironman World Championships in Hawaii.
Armstrong made her Olympic debut in Athens in 2004 where she placed eighth in the women’s road race. In Beijing in 2008, she earned the gold medal for the individual time trial. In London, she completed the 18-mile race 15 seconds ahead of silver medalist Judith Arndt of Germany.
Other career highlights include being a two-time Amgen Tour of California women’s time trial champion (2011, 2012), two-time International Cycling Union (UCI) time trial world champion (2006, 2009), and three-time USA Cycling elite time trial national champion (2005, 2006, and 2007). She is the only American female cyclist to win three career medals at the UCI Road World Championships.