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MANN: Is your child going to be an Olympic athlete?

Image Credit: SUBMITTED
February 15, 2018 - 12:00 PM

My favourite part of watching the Winter Olympics is the moment just before an athlete is about to begin one of the many competitions.

The camera will zoom in on his or her face, and for a moment, you can try to get inside of their head, and guess what they are thinking or feeling.

Is it fear of disappointing their country or parents? Is it excitement? Anticipation? Is it a feeling of wanting to throw up? Are they trying to not think about anything?

I can’t imagine.

I have a lot of respect for Olympic athletes.

I would have made a terrible Olympic athlete. I’m afraid of heights, so any kind of ski jumping would be out. I’m afraid of fast speeds, so there goes bobsledding. And although I thought I was a pretty good skater 20 years ago, attempts in recent years make me think otherwise.

As a mother, I sometimes wonder how these ‘kids’ get their start. Of course I know they aren’t all young children, but seems to me most get an early go — and that inception needs to be encouraged by someone.

If they are involved, who are the proud parents supporting and helping to develop their children’s athletic strengths?

Did they know from the very start their child was somehow physically gifted and they began grooming them for that life?

When the idea is brought to their attention their child could be destined for the life of a competitor, did they weigh all of the pros and cons before making a decision, or did they jump in with both feet and consider the logistics later?

I think of the time commitments — the endless hours of training, focusing on nutrition and let’s not forget about the financial undertakings theses parents are on the line for.

From what I hear, Olympic greatness comes at the cost of a pretty penny — one not everyone can afford.

I’ve read about parents who gave up their jobs to help with their children’s Olympic dreams. I imagine they also give up personal time and maybe even time with other children (if they have more than one).

Parents must struggle, wearing many hats to become the chauffeur, secondary coach and the indefinite cheerleader.

They might get to watch their child stand on the podium, or find value in the years of discipline they have undertaken... or, they may have to console a heartbroken competitor, and remind them all the effort put forth still makes a loss a win.

There are families who move cities and provinces to ensure their child is getting the best possible training. They relocate their lives — give up family support and familiarity for a chance.

So when I sit and watch from the comfort of my living room couch and see those pre-competition faces, I have to believe those athletes have the weight of several individuals on their minds.

More than anything else, I would love to sit down with an Olympic parent and ask them one maybe not-so-simple question above all else…

If they could go back, and no one would be disappointed because the past future did not exist yet (did I lose you there?), would they do it all again?

— Becky Mann is a 30-something, red haired, mother of two, trying to navigate this life as best she can. She enjoys talking to people and discovering their stories. Still trying to balance her personal and professional life, she juggles work and play. In her spare time Becky can be found visiting with friends, spending time with her family and saving time by reading while walking. She knows there is so much more to come and is looking forward to the continued adventure.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2018
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