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.

13. Kerri Walsh – Beach Volleyball

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    Kerri Walsh, left, and partner Misty Misty May-Treanor celebrate winning a point against Australia in their beach volleyball match at the 2012 Summer Olympics on July 28, 2012, in London.
    Petr David Josek/AP
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Kerri Walsh, along with her partner Misty May-Treanor, is attempting to capture her third Olympic gold medal in beach volleyball, and her two sons (born in 2009 and 2010) make her want to win even more.

"I’m so committed to my career and to winning gold with Misty," she told NBCOlympics.com. "We want this so badly, and my children just make me want it even more. I want to make them proud. I want to do it as a mom… As an athlete specifically, I feel like they’ve made me tougher. I’m so inspired. I am so determined to be the best I can be so I can be a great example for them."

Ms. Walsh and Ms. May-Treanor have dominated beach volleyball for the past decade. They have more than 100 career wins together, and they had not lost a set in Olympic competition until Aug. 1, when the Austrian team managed to win one set. Walsh and May-Treanor still won the match, a winning streak unbroken in their Olympic careers. NBC commentators describe them as the best beach volleyball players of all time.

After winning their gold medals in Beijing, both Walsh and May-Treanor both took time off from beach volleyball. Walsh gave birth to her two sons: Joey in 2009 and Sundance in 2010.

In an interview with NBC, Walsh said she always wanted to be a working mom. Her sons travel the world with her. “They are part of the team,” she said.

Walsh and May-Treanor both played with other partners during their time off, but came together again for the 2011 beach volleyball season, finishing the season ranked second in the world. Walsh made her Olympic debut in 2000 with the US women’s indoor volleyball team, placing fourth. She played volleyball for Stanford University, leading the team to two NCAA championships (1996 and 1997).

Walsh and May-Treanor will defend their gold medal in the women’s beach volleyball finals on Aug. 8, playing fellow Americans April Ross and Jen Kessy.

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