Before each Olympics and Paralympics, Bridgestone identifies a broad base of athletes who embody the Olympic experience. Then, company officials narrow the group down, using multiple criteria to select a handful of athletes who not only have a strong story to tell, but also match the tire maker's brand positioning message of "clutch performance when it matters most."
"We certainly want to support these athletes whether or not they medal or make the Games," Ms. Holm said. "But we do try to find athletes that we think have a strong chance of success for game, and in some cases, athletes with a proven history of success."
The most famous Bridgestone Team USA member, perhaps, is Allyson Felix, the only female track and field athlete to win six Olympic gold medals. Ms. Felix is tied with Merlene Ottey as the most decorated female Olympian in track and field history, with nine Olympic medals.
"She's a great ambassador of the Bridgestone brand," Ms. Holm said.
Along with Ms. Felix, this year's group includes: Scout Bassett (Para track and field); Jordan Burroughs (wrestling); Missy Franklin (swimming); Will Groulx (Para-cycling); Jessica Long (Para swimming); and Ryan Murphy (swimming).They have a combined 48 Olympic and Paralympic medals. Ms. Franklin, a five-time Olympic gold medalist in swimming, is the lone retired athlete.
In addition, two-time Olympian Aaron Brown of Canada is Team Bridgestone's first Canadian athlete ambassador as he heads to his third Olympics next summer.
Latin America also has its own group of Team Bridgestone athletes.