They came, they saw, they conquered—claiming medals in all shades of metallic or simply the right to call themselves a freaking Olympian, which, you know, no small feat.
And now it's time to go home, which, for most of the stars of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics that we just devoted 16 days of our life cheering on, means returning to a life of relatively anonymity. Of course, there are the Simone Bileses of the world, the Katie Ledeckys, the Naomi Osakas, the athletes that return to competing in major tournaments and meets that draw major audiences and sign major sponsorship deals with brands all too eager to have a national hero helping to sell their athleticwear, their restaurant chains or their snack foods.
There are always a few breakout stars of each Games as well, the ones likely to parlay their gold-, silver- or bronze-medal victory into a loop through the talk show circuit, an endorsement deal or two and a spot on Dancing With the Stars. (Who doesn't want to see Suni Lee take to the ballroom?)
But everyone else kinda goes back to reality, perhaps diving, racing or tumbling back into training for the 2024 Paris Olympics or returning to the 9 to 5 that enables them to pursue their love for race walking, climbing and steeplechasing.
And while we can't promise to suddenly become a committed follower of all our new favorite sports, there are more than a few athletes worth keeping our eyes on. So as the Olympics draw to a close—sob!—with the Closing Ceremony Aug. 8, these are just a few of the athletes we'll continue cheering on. From a safe distance, of course.