What U.S. Athletes are Listening to in Rio

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Athletes in Rio rely on music to get them through their day just like anyone else, and one researcher says music can improve an athlete’s performance by stimulating the brain.

So what are members of the U.S. Olympic team listening to?

Gymnast Gabby Douglas told that her current favorite is Blanca’s ‘Not Backing Down.’

“It’s so motivational and so upbeat, and it gets me every time,” Douglas told the magazine. “I’ve been listening to it nonstop.”

Kelley O’Hara, a member of the women’s soccer team, told she likes to listen to hip-hop and rap before a game, but she also has been listening to Pink’s ‘Just Like Fire’ lately.

“It’s really catchy and it gets me pumped up,” O’Hara said.

Track and field star Allyson Felix said she relies on music to flip the switch before a race.

“As athletes, we rely so much on that motivation from musicians and what they do,” Felix told “You’re listening to their music in the warm-up field to get you pumped up. And I’m very specific. I have to listen to Beyoncé’s ‘Diva.’ I have to get that alter ego on. I have to go to that different place. I’m a really laid back person, but when it comes to the track I’ve got to switch it on.”

Lily Zhang, a member of the table tennis team, and Meb Keflezighi, a member of the track and field team, both include Eminem in their playlists.

“I love music,” Keflezighi told “As an athlete, I always think of the lyrics in Eminem’s ‘Lose Yourself.’ You only get one shot and one opportunity. You’ve got to seize the moment. He’s motivating.”

Costas Karageorghis, who has spent 25 years studying music and its effect on the brain, told that music can act as a stimulant or a sedative, enhance one’s mood, improve muscle control and help the brain build key muscle memories.

“When the brain is listening to music, it lights up like a Christmas tree,” Karageorghis told NPR. “It’s an ideal stimuli because it reaches (parts of the brain) that can’t easily be reached.”

Long jumper Brittney Reese shared her part of her current playlist with US Weekly. Those tracks include:

  • ‘Big Rings,’ by Drake: “This is my jam because the song symbolizes the five Olympic rings to me.”
  • ‘Jumpman,’ by Drake and Future: “As a long jumper, obviously a song like ‘Jumpman’ is going to be personal to me.”
  • ‘New Level,’ by ASAP Ferg: “As someone who has several records and who is looking to break the world record, this song epitomizes my mind-set. I’m on a whole new level.”
  • ‘Summer Sixteen,’ by Drake: “With 2016 being the Olympic year, ‘Summer Sixteen’ is basically my theme song because I want to own this summer.”