Track and Field Begins in London!
Even though swimming, volleyball, and gymnastics have kept us on the edge of the couch with victories and upsets this past week, I am excited for Track and Field to begin. The USA usually catches up in the Gold medal count during this week. A slogan used for USA Track and Field, “The Hardest Team to Make”, proves itself at the trials and the Olympics.
As we have seen this past week, nothing is a sure thing. Athletes didn’t medal or make the finals in events they were featured. However, other athletes have peaked at the right time and competed better than expected. We will see both tears of victory and defeat this week in Track and Field. That is what makes the Olympics so special.
The athletes need to be at the top of their game on that day. Winning an Olympic medal involves luck, talent, dedication, and support. They need to stay healthy. An injury or sickness at the last minutes can derail four years of work. Most of the athletes were blessed with amazing abilities, strong hearts or big lungs. They set a goal and went after it with all they had.
But most of all they had a great support team. Athlete’s support teams can consist of:
Coaches, Trainers, Physical Therapist, Chiropractor, Doctors, Massage Therapist, Psychologist, Agent, Manager, Team Mates, Nutritionist, Physiologist, National Governing Body (i.e. USATF), Olympic Committee (i.e. USOC), Sponsors, Friends, and Family.
Each support team member plays a crucial role. The ones that have the most staying power usually include friends and family. I have met very few elite athletes that didn’t get some support from their family. A lot of parents have funded their young adult children’s dreams. Most parents continue to pay insurance, car payments, and various training needs. My parents have helped me many times in my career. I will never be able to repay all that they gave me. Parental help is usually higher in less revenue sports or during the developmental years.
The USA is one of three countries that the government doesn’t fund the athletes. Some countries fund the athlete’s development but end up controlling that athlete. The athletes live away from their family in government sponsored training camps. In most government controlled programs the money goes to the organization and not athlete development.
The USOC, United States Olympic Committee, oversees all the NGBs (National Governing Bodies). The USOC receives income from the sale of television broadcast rights and from corporate sponsors. The USOC then distributes money to the NGBs. The USOC money rarely covers the NGB costs. The NGBs raise the needed funds through sponsors or memberships. Fans can help fund their favorite sport by becoming a member of the National Governing Body, like the USATF. www.usatf.org The USATF (USA Track & Field) could use more members and fans at our meets. Running is a sport for life or the life of your knees.
Other ways include donating to organizations that give grants to athletes or teams. I have included a list of Track and Field friendly organizations.
USA Track and Field Foundation – http://usatffoundation.org/
“The foundation has an emphasis on providing opportunities for youth athletes, emerging elite athletes, distance training centers and anti-doping education. The Foundation depends upon donations”. The USA DISTANCE PROJECT is part of the foundation. “The USA Distance Project is dedicated to increasing the opportunities for, and the number of, U.S. long distance running athletes, by creating a network of training environments and activities that will produce more world-class American marathoners and distance stars.” You can direct your donation to the program you choose.
New York Road Runners – http://nyrr.org/
Their mission statement says, “giving all people everywhere a reason to run. Today, tomorrow, and for life.”
Atlanta Track Club – http://www.atlantatrackclub.org/
“The Atlanta Track Club Foundation, Inc., was founded in the late 1980’s with a mission to promote track and field, distance running, and allied events in the State of Georgia.”
RRCA – Road Runners Club of America – http://www.rrca.org/
“Since 1996, the Road Runners Club of America has awarded over $390,000 in grants through its Roads Scholar program to assist American post-collegiate road runners who show great promise to develop into national and world class road running athletes.”
I received two Roads Scholar grants in my running career. The grants helped me to travel to races and pay for training needs. If you want to donate to the young distance runners, this is the program. The average age of an American Olympic distance runner is approximately 27. There is a 5 to 6 year gap between college and qualifying for the Olympics. The athletes need a financial bridge until they have developed in the sport.
If you are interested in getting a glimpse of what the track athletes go through during the warm-up before they compete, you can read this Runner’s World article:
Who’s ready for a week of limited sleep while keeping up with track results? I AM!
GO TEAM USA!