Hurrah! The Olympics start tomorrow, with the opening ceremony set to take place at the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. And for the next two weeks, until August 21, we will be regaled with a plethora of interesting sports and games.
But to compete at such high level, these athletes underwent years of rigorous, intensive training; most started right after the last Olympics in London. So, how have preparations these past four years shaped these athletes for their moment of glory? Let’s consider the peculiar journey of these awesome Olympians.
Before an Olympic hopeful is even in the position where they are good enough to receive funding from sponsors or the government, they will often have to rely on relatives and friends to help them realise their dreams. If they are old enough to work, they would have to forgo a career, and instead choose a job that is flexible and allows them time for their training schedule.
If it happens that you finally achieve your dream and win a medal, there is no guarantee of making money. Reason is that, Olympic medallists receive no prize money from the International Olympic Committee, though some countries offer incentives to competing athletes who win a medal for their respective countries.
However, if you are very successful in your sport like Jamaica’s Usain Bolt (athletics) or United States’ Michael Phelps (swimming) and who has won the highest number of medals as an Olympian; you can expect to see endorsements and appearance fees in the millions of dollars per year after a gold medal win. For those lucky few, success can ease some of those debts acquired and sacrifices made in preparation for the games.
So if you are a budding Olympian, don’t let the thought of buying expensive equipment put you off. Some of the sports are surprisingly affordable and accessible. Help is out there; and with the right dedication and training, just like Blessing Okagbare (who was sponsored by then Delta State Governor, Emmanuel Uduaghan) and Olufunke Oshonaike (Nigeria’s flag-bearer at Rio 2016), you might just make it!