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3 Olympians who faced money problems on the way to gold

Meagan Morris is an entertainment and lifestyle journalist living in New York City. In addition to SheKnows, Morris contributes to many publications including The New York Times, Yahoo! News, PopEater, NBC New York and Spinner. Follow he...

Gabby Douglas: A true rags-to-riches story

Gabby Douglas' mother is thrilled that her daughter won two Olympic gold medals. The road to the Olympics wasn't always so easy, though: Her mom faced severe financial problems. The story is not as uncommon as you might think.

Gabby Douglas' mom filed for bankruptcy

Gabby Douglas is riding high now, thanks to her two gold medal wins at the 2012 Summer Olympics. However, that wasn't always the case: Her dad, Air Force Staff Sgt. Timothy Douglas, left her mother scrambling to pay the bills to support her daughter's talent.

"It was hard for us growing up — my dad had left us, so he wasn’t really in the picture anymore. So, my mom had to front all these bills. My dad didn't really pay the child support. He was short (on money)," Douglas said this week. "It was definitely hard on my mom, taking care of me and my siblings."

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The financial hardships led the 16-year-old's mother, Natalie Hawkins, to file for bankruptcy. The filings — uncovered by TMZ — showed Hawkins with assets of $163,706 and debts of $80,000. Her income was listed at about $2,500 a month.

Hawkins isn't ashamed of her past.

"It's my story, it's part of me. I'm not even embarrassed about it," she said Sunday from London. "It shows that even though I didn't like to have to do it, I'm glad there was something there for me to be able to protect my home."

Watch Gabby Douglas' mom talk about her daughter's gold medal win

She won't have to worry about money much longer: Companies are lining up to give the bubbly (and popular!) gymnast endorsement deals, including a Kellogg's cover, that could net her as much as $8 million to $12 million over the next four years, according to ESPN.

However, Gabby's not the only Olympic athlete to have money worries — far from it. It makes their ascents to the top all the more remarkable.

Ryan Lochte

Ryan Lochte mom bikini

Ryan Lochte might have a penchant for diamond grills and designer clothes, but his hilarious mother, Illeana "Ike" Lochte, isn't in such a great financial condition: She's about to lose her Florida home to foreclosure. TMZ also uncovered documents showing that Ike and her now ex-husband, Steve Lochte, defaulted on their $258,000 mortgage loan from Citibank.

The divorced Lochtes are "taking care" of the debt, according to spokeswoman Erika Wright.

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"After her divorce, Ike fell into financial strain like many people in America can understand when the economy went south," Wright told BuzzFeed in an email. "She did not want to involve her children in her personal matters and did not disclose the extent of the situation to avoid them worrying."

The one thing Ike won't do? Ask her Olympic champ son for help.

"She has since refused to accept financial assistance from her children because she wants to do what she can as a woman, mother and adult to handle her own matters without taking money from her kids," Wright wrote. "It's a shame that the media had to exploit her own personal problems to gain attention at her expense simply because her son is in the news. However she is in the process of taking care of the matter as evidenced by the filing of a motion to dismiss."

Sarah Robles

Powerlifter Sarah Robles made headlines before the Olympics when it was revealed she was struggling to find a sponsor to help her get to the London Summer Games. Worse? She was only living on about $400 a month, thanks to her grueling training schedule.

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"You can get that sponsorship if you’re a super-built guy or a girl who looks good in a bikini. But not if you’re a girl who’s built like a guy,” she told BuzzFeed in early July. The 275-pound lifter can lift upward of 568 pounds.

Fans petitioned companies such as Nike to sponsor Robles, but web company Solve Media eventually came forward in mid-July to help send her to London.

Images courtesy of WENN.com and Proctor & Gamble
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