Dudes doing double backflips on BMX bikes, people parallel swimming together, and Shooting? The Olympics truly is a one-of-a-kind event that showcases some of the most unique athletes in the world.
I don’t know what it is, but there is just something that really resonates with the Olympic Games and me. I love that I can turn the channel from swimming to basketball and then equestrian in a matter of seconds.
But the biggest takeaway I come across when watching these athletes is their passion. Many of these participants are not global superstars, and this is truly their one moment to shine.
It’s probably easy to forget this because of American icons like Simone Biles, Michael Phelps, and Katie Ledecky. But many of the participants probably work a day job in their home country.
In reality, they’re probably living similar lifestyles as us, except for their training regiment. Rarely do we get to see these types of people on the flashing screen brain control thing.
For example, in a 2016 article before the Rio Olympics, The Washington Post interviewed two-time Olympic javelin thrower Cyrus Hostetler, and he said: “that the most he’s ever earned in a year is $3,000.”
That figure speaks for itself.
By the way, if you recognize the name Hostetler, he graduated from the University of Oregon in 2010 and Newberg High School in 05.
And while he may have never found Olympic stardom, never placing higher than 20th in the games, even athletes who do find success will likely struggle financially. The following quote surprised me.
“Fifty percent of track athletes who rank in the top 10 in the United States in their event earn less than $15,000 annually from their sport.” The article wasn’t clear to me whether this number included endorsements or not.
Nevertheless, this is a far cry from the average figure that most big-time American athletes reel in.
For example, Giannis Antetokounmpo’s rags to riches story is truly inspirational. But it may be important to remember that he was already a multi-millionaire by the time he won an NBA Championship.
This is usually not the case for Olympic Athletes.
To me, Olympians are motivational figures. They are everyday people who chase after their dreams, probably at the cost of their financial security. In the purest sense of the form, they actually do it for the love of the game.
I mean, c’mon, Hostetler finished 20th in the world and only walked away with three stacks.
This type of dedication, discipline, and love for their craft makes me feel like people still got some heart in them, and I’m probably not the only one.
Remember when Brandi Chastain scored the game-winning penalty kick in 1999, inspiring girls throughout the US to sign up for youth soccer?
The bottom line is, many of the lesser-known athletes competing in these Olympic Games probably had to sacrifice just about everything to get there.
And all while likely working a real-world job like you or me.