How to Become an Olympic Athlete

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Learning how to become an Olympic athlete requires much more than four years of training. Olympic athletes often begin training for the games during childhood and/or their teenage years. Olympic athletes may choose to compete in either the Winter Olympics or the Summer Olympics, which are each held every four years. In order to compete in the games, athletes must compete for a country in which they hold valid citizenship.



Wikimedia Commons: Nick Webb
Education Formal athletic training
Starting pay Prize money varies by country
Median pay Prize money varies by country
10 yr growth Slower than average[1]
Related professions Olympic figure skater, track athlete, Olympic skier
Author Selena Robinson
 

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Contents

Olympic Athlete Job Overview

An Olympic athlete must compete for his or her home country during a specific sport at the Olympic Games. Athletes may choose from various sports, depending on whether they want to compete at the summer or winter games. Summer Olympics events include track and field, gymnastics, swimming, basketball, beach volleyball, soccer, and tennis.[2] Sports at the Winter Olympics include figure skating, skiing, snowboarding, hockey, luge, and speed skating.[3]

Olympic Athlete Pay

Olympic athletes do not receive a salary or payment for competition. However, those who win a medal receive prize money, depending on which medal they earn. Olympic medal prize money varies widely, though, since each country can set its own prize amounts. In the U.S., Olympians who win gold medals receive $25,000, those who win silver medals receive $15,000, and bronze medal winners receive $10,000. Many Olympic athletes who become stars earn most of their money through corporate sponsorship deals.[4]

Olympic Athlete Education

While a formal education is not required in order to compete at the Olympics, some athletes do decide to pursue collegiate sports as a way to learn important skills. For example, some long-distance runners compete in track meets during college as a way to prepare for the rigors of Olympic competition.[5]

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) does not impose an age limit on athletes who wish to compete at the games. However, age limits are set by the international federation of each sport.[6] Athletes must consult their specific sport's federation for information about age restrictions. For example, in order for a gymnast to compete at the Summer Olympics, he or she must be at least 16 years of age.[7]

Olympic Athlete Training

Intensive training is required of all Olympic athletes. Those who compete in the Winter Games sports such as skiing and the luge often begin training before they become teenagers. Learning how to navigate sport-specific equipment such as skis takes years of practice. They must also develop diet and exercise habits that will help them perform at a high level and maintain a competitive weight. These habits are generally formed in adolescence.[8]

Since there are so few spots available for athletes on each country's team, those who wish to become Olympic athletes must work tirelessly on improving their form and ability. This may involve training with weights, working on finesse, and refining their form.[9]

Gabby Douglas Olympic Gold Medal Win

Team USA gymnast Gabby Douglas wins the individual all-around gold medal at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, England

Also See: How to Become an Olympic Skier, How to Become an Olympic Snowboarder, How to Become an Olympic Figure Skater, How to Become an Olympic Coach

References

  1. http://www.bls.gov/ooh/entertainment-and-sports/athletes-and-sports-competitors.htm
  2. http://rio2016.com/en/the-games/olympic/sports
  3. http://www.sochi2014.com/en
  4. http://www.businessinsider.com/heres-how-much-olympic-athletes-really-get-paid-2012-7
  5. http://www.active.com/running/articles/becoming-an-olympian
  6. http://www.olympic.org/documents/olympic_charter_en.pdf
  7. http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/sports/olympics/2010-08-16-4215111810_x.htm
  8. http://www.canada.com/olympics/news/what-it-takes-to-become-an-olympic-athlete
  9. http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/eticket/story?page=olympianpart1