Olympic moms: 13 mothers compete for Team USA

The “Celebrating Moms” series of commercials by Proctor & Gamble during Olympic coverage is a tear-jerking ode to sacrifices mothers make to support their kids’ athletic careers. But what about athletes who are mothers, themselves?

Elite athlete moms have the same run-of-the-mill work/life balance as the rest of us. But these 13 Olympic moms do put parenting – both its challenges and rewards – in a new perspective.

11. Keli Smith-Puzo – Field Hockey

Suzanne Plunkett/Reuters
Keli Smith-Puzo, right, challenges Germany's Christina Schuetze for the ball during their women's Group B hockey match at the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 29, 2012.

Keli Smith-Puzo is the only US women’s field hockey player who has returned to international competition after giving birth, and she’s made the return twice.

After the birth of her second son, Ian, in August 2011, Ms. Smith-Puzo returned to training just three months later. She gave birth to her first son, Xavi, in 2010.

Smith-Puzo told Sports Illustrated that her children have helped her better enjoy field hockey and competing.

“For me, before having children, it was sometimes hard for me to turn [the game mentality] off,” she said. “The game ends, and I wouldn't be able to turn off what happened. And over time, what ends up happening is that you take everything back onto the field. Instead of starting fresh, and feeling like you're re-energized, you take some baggage back and it's sometimes difficult and exhausting. But after [becoming a mother], I felt I was enjoying the sport more because I was able to turn it off when I was off the field.”

Appearing in her 150th match for the US national team, Smith-Puzo competed in the 2011 Four Nations tournament in Rosario Argentina when she was three months pregnant, helping her team win a silver medal. This is her second Olympic Games – the team placed eighth in Beijing in 2008.

In London, the US women’s field hockey team is out of medal contention, playing for 11th place on Aug. 10.

Smith-Puzo began playing for the national team in 2001 when She graduated from the University of Maryland where she helped her team win the 1999 NCAA championship.

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