“If you want to be an Olympic athlete, you need to choose your parents wisely”. I heard that quote when I was in school studying Physical Education, and I have never forgotten it.
The Olympics, the best of the best, competing on a global stage. What more could you ask for than to represent your country in a challenge against almost every nation in the world? Imagine the adrenaline, the excitement, and the joy that you must feel. But can anybody reach that level?
“Choose your parents wisely”? It is no secret that some people are created with certain genetic advantages over the rest of us. Whether it is greater muscular strength, endurance, lung capacity, flexibility, mental focus, hand-eye coordination, or whatever it is, it is easier for those people to excel in athletics than the average person.
Before I continue, I want to make something very clear. I am not saying yes or no to whether or not anyone can become an Olympic athlete. I can say with 100% certainty that it is much easier for some people than others. I am not saying that it is impossible for anyone though. Honestly, I don’t know the answer. I am looking for feedback from YOU!
When Michael Phelps was young, his coaches already knew that he was going to be amazing. Why? Because he was naturally gifted when it came to swimming.
Usain Bolt – He takes 2 or 3 fewer steps in the 100m than every other runner out there. Why? He has a huge stride, a genetic advantage. Taking fewer steps during the race is a huge advantage.
Do these gifts mean that these athletes do not need to work hard? Not at all! They still work their butts off! If Usian and I went through the exact same training, I would still never be able to beat him. So how am I supposed to compete against him? I’m not! I could devote my entire life to training for the 100m dash, and I am more than likely never going to beat him. Does that mean that I can’t be an Olympian? Not at all!
Before I wrote this post, I Googled “Can Anyone Become An Olympic Athlete”. I found an article on Fabjobs.com, and this is how they laid out the steps. An quick note, they did mention that oldest Olympian to medal was 72, so I am feeling like my chances have improved.
- Assess your physical condition
- Choose a sport
- Find a place to train
- Join the national governing body
- Start competing
- Get a coach
- Visualize your success
- Find financing
- Attend the National Championships
- Qualify for The Olympics
When they put it like that, it seems kind of easy! But what if 10,000 people decide that they want to compete in the high jump? Do they all have a legitimate shot, if they put in the training?
Before, I kept talking about Usain Bolt, and how I could not beat him, no matter how much I trained. Look at who we are talking about though. When it comes to sprinting, he is the best of the best. Even the other athletes that are gifted with fast twitch muscle fibers, quick reaction time, and that are training like he is, they have not been able to beat him. Maybe I can compete with them though. Maybe, just maybe, I could be good enough to meet the qualifying standard, and head off to represent the US.
In the 2012 Olympics, there were 26 different sports. Archery, badminton, basketball, beach volleyball, boxing, canoe/kayak, cycling, diving, equestrian, fencing, field hockey, gymnastics, hand ball, judo, modern pentathlon, rowing, sailing, shooting, soccer/football, swimming, synchronized swimming, table tennis, taekwondo, tennis, track and field, triathlon, volleyball, water polo, weight lifting and wrestling. Most of those sports then had sub categories in them. For anyone dreaming of becoming an Olympian, that means OPTION! No, I cannot compete with Usain Bolt, or Michael Phelps. I am not a great swimmer, and I am not that quick of a sprinter. So, what am I good at? What are you good at? Look at that list. Is there anything on that list that you could possibly excel at?
My dream would be to compete in the decathlon. I have competed in them before, and even in a few double decathlons. While I was always decent, my scores are nowhere near where I would need to be to compete in the Olympics. The time that I would need to commit to the skills alone would make it hard for me to work, and spend time with my family and friends. A lot of athletes have the luxury of not needing to work. That is not the case for most of us. I think that I can safely rule out that I will ever be competing in the decathlon in the Olympics. For me, I think that there are 2 possible ways that I could go. I am naturally athletic, which is a good start. Maybe I could focus on one of the team sports, and get good enough to make the cut. There, it is not just about meeting a certain standard. There are more factors involved, and I could possibly reach that level. The other is throwing, probably the discus. For my size, I am pretty good. I am about 6 ft tall, and weight in around 180. I have not thrown in about a year, but I was throwing around130 ft before. Most people think that throwers are just big and strong. WRONG! There is a great deal of technique required to be a good thrower. I have never had any real coaching, but I feel that my form is better than most amateurs. What if I got some real coaching, and devoted the next few years to serious strength training. Could I get to 190, maybe 200 ft? I have watched videos of those guys bench pressing around 400 lbs. I don’t think I could bench 200 right now. If I committed myself to putting on 30, maybe 40 pounds of muscle over the next 2 -3 years, could I possible become that good? What do you think? Is it a real possibility?
What about a kid that is 10 years old, and really struggles with athleticism? I am a firm believer in shooting for the stars. If he has the passion, and the desire, can that kid really excel to the skill level of an Olympic athlete? What if they had all of the best trainers, did all of the right workout programs, had the best nutritionist? Is the fact that they are not naturally gifted in the area of athletics going to hold them back, or do they REALISTICALLY have a shot at reaching the Olympics, and representing their country?
I would love to get some real feedback on this. Leave a comment below, and let me know what you really think. I would love to get the opinion of some world class athletes, so if you kow how to get ahold of one, send them to this page. In the meantime, I think that I am going to start strength training!