In my whole life I've never met an Olympian, though recently I've become acquainted with a woman, Anya, who works out at my gym and who’s presently training to win a place on the American team for the winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Her expertise: the skeleton. “What?” I asked.
“It’s like the luge but safer," she said.
I have no idea what she’s talking about but I’m still impressed.
Then just a few weeks ago I discovered that my workout trainer is very close with James Beckford, a former Olympian who graduated from Boone High School in Orlando. Beckford competed for Jamaica in the Atlanta Olympics in 1996 and won the silver. He came in just behind Carl Lewis in long jump. Wow!
But lately Beckford’s run into hard times in Florida. He wanted to stay in his beloved field and coach kids who also love the sport but found it difficult to make a living. Several months ago Austria offered him a sponsorship, and that’s where he is now, working diligently under the support of his sponsor.
Anya, the one training for the skeleton team, said, “Get your sponsorship wherever you can.”
Lying on a mat a few feet away, I realized that I’ve never considered the problem of sponsorship. “You know I’ve worried about everything in the world but that,” I said. “How come I missed it?”
Finishing a couple dozen sit-ups, I rolled to my side and breathed out. “Oh I know why. I got a husband. He’s my sponsor, and I can do anything I want.”
Everyone around me laughed, Anya the loudest.
But I’ve come to realize that besides the intense training and dedication that dominates an Olympian’s life, the athlete needs financial support, beyond his parents, to achieve his ultimate goal.
For many years I’ve worked to supplement our income, but I knew it was never enough. So did I do the world a favor by not searching for sponsorships? No, I did the world a favor by marrying well.