As opening ceremonies grow closer, the anticipation and excitement build around the world to watch the top athletes perform at their best. The media frenzy that accompanies the Olympics is greater than any other sporting event in the world. Each country sends their teams of reporters to cover the story and bring it back to their viewers. For two and a half weeks the public eye is watching your every move. Social media websites are in full force, blogs are popping up everywhere, and interviews and analysis are never-ending. There is nothing wrong with media exposure and publicity, but are the Olympics really about the athletes any more?
What most people don't understand is that the Olympics don't just occur over a 17-day period. It isn't just something that pops up and disappears until resurfacing in another four years. For an athlete it is a lifestyle. It takes four years of your life to prepare for a tiny window of time, and once it passes there is no way to get it back. Your success depends fully on how committed you are to your preparation. It is not just the athlete that is affected by a commitment to total preparation but everyone connected to the athlete as well. Wives, girlfriend, family, friends, people who the athlete depends on, these are the people most affected by such a commitment, and usually the ones who don't take credit for the athlete's success. The truth is without them the athlete would be nowhere. It takes more dedication to commit your time to someone else than to yourself, and the small communities surrounding each athlete are the gears that drive the machine into motion. Changing plans, adapting schedules, and basically restructuring their lives to accommodate the dreams of another person is the way of life for these people. There is no complaining, no whining, because they know they have a job to do and the athlete's success depends on their support.
The greatest gift anyone can give to another person is their time, and as an athlete I know that there is no way I would be where I am today without the help and support of the people who impact my life.
The Olympics are not just about the athlete. In my opinion the podium should be a whole lot bigger.
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