Olympic Claim to Fame

13 Aug

“Google me. I was in the Olympics,” the muscled gent oozed as he extended his hand. I know it’s cheesy, but I couldn’t help teeter as I stood in the parking lot, floored to be meeting an athlete ambitious enough to compete against the world. Who cares that he didn’t win? Most participating  athletes will never have the chance to gnaw into a medal of their own

Take the London games. Less than 10 percent of the 10,000 participating athletes will tow a medal home. For people like the boastful boxer, memories must suffice. They return uncelebrated to the anonymity of their everyday realities, with only the smallest waft of victory yet taunting their nostrils.  It’s still an accomplishment; Most of the world’s 7 billion occupants could never stand a chance. I certainly couldn’t. But I had loved watching others try.   Why do they do it? Fame? The challenge? The satisfaction of being able to declare yourself temporarily the world’s best?

Well, money helps.

Though the International Olympic Committee offers the hardware, nabbing a medal can  mean cold, hard cash in some countries.  In the U.S., Olympic athletes receive $25,000 for gold, $15,000 for silver and $10,000 for bronze. Kazakhstan gold medal winners will receive ten times that, £159,000, for seizing the world’s most desired medal.

Though the “gold” medal is  92 percent silver, incentives like that can up the ante on every athletes’ desire to be one of less than three percent of all participants to walk away with the top title. It’s a big gamble. But in the slim chance of success, the accomplishment and its accompanying potential endorsements and acclaim make many willing to vie.

My question is how do athletes increase their odds. Of course,  natural ability plays a part. Training is crucial. But from the omnipresent video footage of athletes’ muttered prayers, affirmations and mottos before races begin, half of the battle seems mental. Sometimes, those considered a shoe-in for medals fail to live up to their hype. Sometimes, a scrappy underdog beats out the media’s christened winner. For mere mortals like myself, that’s half the fun.

Must I really wait two whole years to enjoy Sochi 2014 Russian Winter Olympics?

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2 Responses to “Olympic Claim to Fame”

  1. Mao's Army August 13, 2012 at 9:21 pm #

    Don’t even matter if the guy was in the special olympics, you can always say you dated an olympian! By the way, keep up the good work. Really enjoy reading your posts on my way to work.

    Like

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