Top 10 Olympic Men who should be in Romance Novels

Believe it or not, there were more men at the Olympics than Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps. Even more shocking, there were men of true character even though the media focused on Ryan Lochte’s web of lies and the USA men’s basketball team “accidentally” going to a brothel. After each Olympics, strictly for your benefit, I select 10 men whose performance makes them worthy of being a romance novel hero. From the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio Brazil, here are my top champions:

 10) Isaquias Queiroz Dos Santos

Canoe Sprint

  • Silver Men’s canoe single 1000m
  • Silver Men’s canoe double 1000m
  • Bronze Men’s canoe single 200m

Country: Brazil

Future Romance Hero: The man with nine lives!

The best romance novels come with great conflict and Isaquias’ childhood was full of drama. When he was three, he poured boiling water on himself. He was kidnapped and rescued at five years old. At ten years old, he fell from a tree and suffered the loss of a kidney. As a teenager, he severed the top third off his left ring finger in a cooking accident. All of this resulted in a lifetime of bullying from other children who called him “Sem Rim,” (means “Missing Kidney”) and doctors who told him to be cautious.  Defying all odds, he pursued his Olympic dream and was rewarded with 3 medals when the Olymipcs was held in his home country and he received the honor of carrying Brazil’s flag during the closing ceremonies. Whatever his future holds, it will certainly not be boring.

brazil canoe

9) Danell Leyva

Gymnasts: (2) Silver Men’s Horizontal Bar

Country: United States

Future Romance Hero: Erotica’s Hottest Leading Man

It’s no secret that men’s gymnastics doesn’t get the attention of women’s gymnastics and Danell was on a mission to show viewers what they were missing. During the Gala, the best of the best are asked to perform their greatest hits without the pressure of the competition. Danell took this as an opportunity to show a new side of men’s gymnastics by doing a little striptease to reveal his impressive upper body muscles while performing on the horizontal bar. His stunt worked as his routine received a lot of media attention, which will no doubt help him launch his acting career.


8) Jack Sock


Gold Mixed doubles

Bronze Men’s doubles

Country: United States

Future Romance Hero: The next Action Sports Hero

Jack Sock is my favorite tennis player and I was thrilled that he was heading to Rio. Not only is he adorable but he embodies good sportsmanship. Lots of non-tennis fans might have the image of John McEnroe throwing temper tantrums on the court when they think of tennis players. This is not Jack. He is this generation’s tennis player. This video is pre-Rio but explains why he’s my favorite. He proves that you can play fair and still grow up to be an Olympic Champion.


7) Wayde van Niekerk

Track & field: Gold Men’s 400m

Country: South Africa

Future Romance Hero: Justice for his Mother

Many athletics were prevented from competing outside of their country’s borders because of South Africa’s Apartheid. Wayde symbolizes a brighter future for athletics of all races. His victories are all his own but he came to Rio with an impressive support team and lineage. His coach is a 74 year old grandmother named Anna Botha who took her 50 years of coaching experience to help the first generation van Niekerk allowed to complete on an international stage. This is because his mother, Odessa Swarts, was a talented athlete but not allowed to compete. Instead of being bitter and resentful (which was me when I heard her story), she beamed with pride over her son’s successes and he will come home to her with a gold medal.

6) David Rudisha

Track and Field: Men’s 800m; Gold

Country: Kenya

Future Romance Hero: Paranormal Shape shifter

As an animal lover, I was devastated to hear about the death of Cecil the Lion. I felt there was little I could do from the USA but not David. He’s on a mission to change his culture’s way of proving their manhood through athletic accomplishments instead of killing lions. He tells his people to instead run like lions. With back-to-back Olympic gold medals and the world’s admiration, he can take this positive message back to his Maasai ethnic group in Kenya.

5) Matthew Centrowitz Jr.

Track & field: Gold Men’s 1500m

Country: United States

Future Romance Hero: Like Father Like Son

Matthew Centrowitz Jr lived most of his life in the shadow of his father, Matthew Centrowitz Sr, a 5000 meter champion with 4 USA Outdoor Championships gold medals to his credit. Watch any video of Senior and he comes across as a tough competitor and alpha male who helped influenced his son’s career. At Rio, Junior surpassed his father’s career accomplishments by taking the gold medal. I can’t tell which reaction is more priceless, the look of happiness on Senior’s face or the look on Junior’s face when he saw that his father was proud of him. For readers who (subconsciously or intentionally) seek parental approval, this tale checked off all the boxes.


4) Galen Rupp

Track and Field: Men’s Marathon: Bronze

Country: United States

Future Romance Hero: This generation’s Dudley Do Right

Good guys should finish first (technically he finished third but that’s not the point). Galen Rupp is a favorite of mine because he’s from Oregon and he comes across as a good human being. His personal mantra is “always do the right thing, whether it means never taking shortcuts, being honest or having integrity”. Galen proves that you can be a nice guy and still be a fierce competitor. After a disappointing 5th place in the Men’s 10,000 meter race where he collided with his training partner, Mohamed Farah, I feared that would be his 2016 Rio experience since he only other event was the men’s marathon, an event he had little experience. However, he impressed everyone by taking the bronze medal in his only second completed marathon. He is now part of history as he medaled in an event that will be remembered for the Ethiopia Olympian Feyisa Lilesa’s symbol of peace that endangered his life and Meb Keflezighi falling at the finish line and bounced back with three push-ups. For me, it was the most memorable event of the Olympics with one of my favorite athletes.

3) Michael Hixon

Diving: Men’s synchronized 3m springboard: Silver

Country: United States

Future Romance Hero:

All of my top ten lists include a diver because you have to be a strong confident man to compete in such limited clothing that viewers will question if the media coverage intentionally made their event appear racy. Michael received a lot of attention for his physical resemblance to Zac Efron (who made a guest appearance in Rio and received more media attention than many of the actual athletes) but he made my list for his “victory dance” in the water after his silver award performance with his diving partner Sam Dorman. It’s great to see excitement from the competitors.


2) Sam Kendricks

Track and Field: Bronze Men’s pole vault

Country: United States

Future Romance Hero: Military Hero

When Usain Bolt stopped an interview in honor of a national anthem being played in the stadium, he received international media for his character. But he wasn’t the only one who respects national anthems. US Army reservist Sam Kendricks started to run his pole vault attempt when he heard his national anthem. He stopped mid-attempt, dropped his pole and stood in attention. He gave viewers a moment to share in his patriotism. Since I come from a military family, this moment was precious to me and I wanted him to take him the gold but will be very proud of his bronze accomplishment.


1) Ryan Murphy


  • Gold Men’s 100m backstroke
  • Gold Men’s 200m backstroke
  • Gold Men’s 4x100m medley relay

Country: United States

If you weren’t Michael Phelps getting all the attention for the right reasons or Ryan Loche stealing media time for all the wrong reasons, it was hard for any USA male swimmer to get any of the spotlight. There were quite a few fine gentlemen to select from but Ryan Murphy’s childhood drawings warmed my heart. He wrote a letter to his parents when he was eight years old with his intentions to be in the Olympics and he made good with that promise by taking home 3 gold medals at his first Olympics (pre-Phelps, that was considered a huge accomplishment). His looks alone should land him on the cover of a romance novel but it’s an extra bonus that he has the heart of a champion.

These men are wonderful but there were AMAZING women at the 2016 Olympics and they will get their own top 10 ranking in my next blog post. Stay Tuned.


About Jessie Smith

Health Care Worker by Day, Aspiring Author by Night and 24/7 Staff for Riley (Corgie/Tibetan Spaniel Mix)

Posted on August 29, 2016, in Auth: Jessa Slade, General and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Thanks Mike! Thiago Braz da Silva is amazing. Could you imagine winning the gold medal in your home country? That stadium exploded with applause. I wish the pole vault competition got more attention on NBC.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great idea for a post and well written. One pole vaulter made the list (Kendricks) but my wife and daughter think the Brazillian that won the pole vault was the best-looking guy in the entire Olympics.


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