For each Simone Biles or Usain Bolt—athletes who make history and signal moneymaking endorsement deals—there are lots of males and females who work each bit as difficult for only a fraction of the recognition. The aim: to move down in history as having reached the top of physical performance in the Olympics, that universally diagnosed general of excellence. Held every four years in each winter and summer season iterations, it’s an as soon as-in-a-lifetime chance to cap off years of schooling and be part of the arena’s athletic elite.
Intellectual Floss spoke with numerous medalists approximately the realities of competing, from the all-you-can-consume McNuggets to the high fee of their equipment.
1- IT COSTS OLYMPIC ATHLETES A SMALL FORTUNE TO GET READY.
At the same time as some groups of people in excessive-profile sports activities benefit from sponsorships or sponsored expenses at the Olympics, the price of schooling over a duration of a decade or greater to put together for opposition often falls on their personal shoulders. Skeleton racer Kyle Tress estimates he spent properly over $ hundred,000 on the road to the 2014 iciness games in Sochi. “It’s astronomical,” he says. “A competition sled on my own expenses well over $10,000, and you’ve got to buy new runners at $a thousand every. Then there’s a journey. Some of those places, like a ski hotel in France, aren’t easy to get to.”
2- THEIR FAMILIES SWAP OR SELL TICKETS.
Athletes are generally given a hard and fast wide variety of tickets to their occasions, which may not healthy the wide variety of buddies, family, or individuals of their support team they’d like to attend. As an end result, families often change tickets for positive days with the households of different athletes. “My dad is in fee of tickets this 12 months,” says Henrik Rummel, a rower who took bronze inside the 2012 games in London. “He’ll change off days with other [athletes’] own family contributors to fill the tickets we need. It’s crappy to simplest have such a lot of tickets. I don’t even want to be concerned in the process.”
3- FOR OLYMPIC ATHLETES, QUALIFYING CAN BE MORE NERVE-WRACKING THAN THE ACTUAL GAMES.
Marti Malloy, a 2012 bronze medalist in judo, knew early in 2016 that she had racked up sufficient wins to qualify for the Rio video games. However, the one’s sorts of initial competitions can now and again be extra of a pressure cooker than competing in front of one billion television viewers. “There can be more nerves in a small event while you sense like you couldn’t lose,” she says. “within the Olympics, it’s like, you lost, but you misplaced a number of the great people on this planet.”
4- OLYMPIC ATHLETES GORGE ON MCDONALD’S.
As an established Olympic sponsor, McDonald’s has assured itself a permanent house in the eating hall of Olympic Village, the mini-city erected in the host town for each occasion. Like all of the food there, it’s virtually unfastened. “some athletes don’t go before their event, but after, you can stroll up and ask for 6 cheeseburgers and that they just ring it up,” Rummel says. If an athlete doesn’t want to burn fuel over an extended period, they might determine to indulge early: Sprinter Usain Bolt wrote that he gobbled a thousand chook McNuggets in the 10-day span before and after winning three gold medals on the 2008 Beijing games.
5- OLYMPIC ATHLETES LIVE IN A WEIRDLY UNFINISHED TOWN.
The brilliance of each video game, the Olympic Village is a multi-dollar panorama similar to Campus, with Open housing, catering, and entertainment areas. Usually, the paint and grass will nevertheless scent fresh, and little info can wander away within the rush to complete it on time. “Our rental door had a 2.5-inch gap on the lowest,” Tress says, which let in the cold Sochi air. Certainly one of his buddies, a bobsledder, had a malfunctioning lock on his toilet door.“It turned into a punch out.” as a minimum he ought to finish his work: In some Sochi rooms, the toilet will now not pay”.
6- OLYMPIC ATHLETES GET THEIR OWN TRAFFIC LANE.
Host towns should put up with a huge inflow of site visitors. As a end result, Olympic athletes and team of workers generally have an explicit shortcut to and from the venues. “There were dedicated site visitors lanes, which made it plenty less difficult getting around,” Rummel says.
7- OLYMPIC ATHLETES SOMETIMES SKIP THE OPENING CEREMONIES.
The pageantry that accompanies the opening ceremonies for the summer season and wintry weather video games is an Olympic tradition, with athletes anticipated to take part—but many don’t, fearing that being on their feet for up to six or 8 hours may impact their overall performance if their event is one of the first scheduled. Malloy, in 2012 ceremonies who participated in the 2012 ceremonies, is an exception. “I idea about [not doing] it, but I did and won a medal besides,” she says.
8- OLYMPIC ATHLETES CAN GET A BUNCH OF DENTAL WORK DONE FOR FREE.
Because such a lot of athletes work simply part-time as a way to be capable of teaching, scientific and dental advantages can be difficult to return by, and their athletic training may be difficult at the enamel. At the 2014 games, Tress changed into amazed to look a dental workplace in Olympic Village in which the care turned into totally unfastened. “most anybody on my group went and saw the dentist,” he says. “The U.S. Olympic Committee [itself] doesn’t offer dental for us. For a game in which we’re required to wear a mouth defend, that’s pretty loopy.”
9- BRONZE MEDALISTS MIGHT BE HAPPIER THAN SILVER MEDALISTS.
As a minimum, that’s according to 1995 take a look at of pictures and interviews featuring medal winners. Psychologists Victoria Medvec, Scott Madey, and Thomas Gilovich checked out images and listened to audio interviews of competitors taken after the 1992 Olympics and determined that bronze winners appeared subjectively extra pleased than the greater sullen silver-medal winners. They theorized that silver medalists were disenchanted when comparing themselves to gold medal winners, even as bronze athletes were satisfied to have been placed in any respect.
Does Rummel—who gained bronze in 2012—suppose it holds water? “i was a piece disillusioned as a number one reaction, however then you definitely simply recognize it’s specific and allow yourself to rejoice. Now, I’m absolutely thrilled with it. [But] it is based upon on the sport. A basketball crew in a semifinal healthy might be happy to get bronze whilst it’s that or now not something.”
10- OLYMPIC ATHLETES SWAP CLOTHES.
Whilst the U.S. Groups pass in for processing earlier than departing for Olympic Village, they’re stepping into the arena’s maximum-stop rummage sale: garb from sponsors like Nike and Ralph Lauren are laid out and athletes are loose to take as lots as they select. “You get duffel bags entire of the stuff,” Malloy says. “you want to put on it all of the time so there’s sufficient to put on for two weeks, and we wind up buying and selling among ourselves.”
11- OLYMPIC ATHLETES NEED TO TIPTOE AROUND.
Because so many activities take place over a two-week duration, athletes who’ve wrapped up competitions and might have a good time want to be aware of all of us who is however on deck. “at the same time as people are completed competing, it turns into extra of birthday party environment,” Tress says. “however you need to be respectful.” There’s no authentic noise ordinance, and no booze is permitted inside the Village, however, victory events are nevertheless low-key while napping athletes are around.
12- OLYMPIC ATHLETES WIND UP WATCHING A LOT OF EVENTS ON TELEVISION.
Despite the truth that they could sign on for tickets to at least one-of-a-kind activities and notice their stay, some athletes are definitely too worn out from the amusement to upward thrust up from the couch. “I bear in mind sitting in a common room searching some component on television,” Malloy says. “My teammate grew to come to be to me and stated, ‘I bet we have to have honestly lengthy past to this.