Olympics

Get your tissues ready: New ad celebrates the moms behind the Olympians

Jan. 7, 2014 at 9:41 AM ET

From the moment they start to stand on their own, unsteady little legs, you're there to pick your babies up when they fall.

As they get older, the falls get harder, and watching them fall and fail is one of the hardest parts of a parent's job. But teaching kids to pick themselves up and keep going is one of the most important things we parents do.

That universal truth gets the tearjerker treatment in this new Olympics-themed ad from Proctor & Gamble. Their "Thank You, Mom" ad for the London 2012 Olympics went viral, and this one is racking up the YouTube views as well. (Full disclosure: P&G is an advertiser with TODAY Moms. More disclosure: This ad really did make me cry at my desk. Twice. Thanks a lot, P&G.)

Sometimes, moms support their children through what, for many Olympians, is the hardest thing of all: withdrawing from competition. That's likely the case for Lindsey Vonn, who announced Tuesday morning that she will not compete in the upcoming Olympics in Sochi due to a knee injury. (And who can watch footage of the February crash that mangled her knee without cringing?) Vonn has spoken about how her mother, who suffered a stroke while giving birth to her, has always been a model for toughness and perseverance.

"My mom’s a really positive, upbeat person. Even when I crash. She always says, ‘Oh, you have next time,’" Vonn, who says she plans to compete again, told TODAY.com back in October.

TODAY.com talked to some Olympians about how much their parents' support means to them.

Olympic hockey star Julie Chu thanks her mom and dad for allowing, and encouraging, her to play ice hockey at a time when that wasn't common for little girls. 

"It would have been really easy for her to be like, 'I think maybe you shouldn’t be playing that.' But I was really fortunate that she was always about opening doors, and very welcoming, and by saying 'yes' she really opened my world to all that’s around me," Chu told TODAY.com.

Olympians Monday, Oct. 28, 2013, in New York, NY (Rebecca Davis / TODAY)
Rebecca Davis / TODAY
Olympian Julie Chu and her mom, Miriam

Julie's mom, Miriam, said it didn't even cross her mind to say no. "We just wanted to give her the opportunity to try anything she wanted and take it from there," she said.

Even now, Julie said, knowing her parents are in the stand makes a huge difference to her. "Even though before a game I’m not necessarily searching the stands for my parents, I know that they’re there," she said. "Having my mom by my side — she’s always there with a huge smile and a hug — those little things, they go a long way. We have our ups and downs, and to have her there, to be that support, is unreal."

Caitlin Sarubbi, a Paralympic Alpine skier, said she's so grateful that her parents embraced her passion for skiing and made it a family affair. When the pressure of high-level competition starts to weigh heavily, Sarubbi said she counts on her family for support. "Their main priority is my safety," she said. "For them, a successful race is that we are safe and did the best we could, and not about how well we finished. Talking to them helps me put everything into perspective."

Vidya Rao and Meena Duerson contributed reporting to this story.

Video: 2014 Winter Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls Jazmine Fenlator, Hilary Knight, Heath Calhoun, and Jamie Anderson talk about the road to Sochi, and what an important role family plays in encouraging and supporting them on their path to the Games.


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