When Gabby Douglas of the USA’s women’s gymnastics team took gold for individual gymnastic performance the night after having won gold with the rest of her team, history was made. However, that is not the only thing she and the team have done. Together, and individually, they have given themselves a future.
As I watched Gabby and her team compete in the Olympics, I have often caught the announcers say things like, “you know, it’s sad to believe but 16 is now about the prime age for competitive gymnastics at this level so it’s all or nothing right here…” or, “these girls have trained their entire life for this one moment…” It was not so much the statements themselves, but more the tone in which they were said that caught my attention. I think what these girls are really doing for their lives is completely overshadowed by the Olympics, but not necessarily in a negative way.
The Olympics is more than just a worldwide sporting event that draws billions of peoples’ attention. The Olympics makes athletes into celebrities, gets them sponsorships, and of course provides them with the opportunity to hold gold on the top of the platform. At the end of the day however, when the crowd has gone home and the gym lights are shut off, there’s still a bright future waiting for our gymnasts that have made it to the Olympics. People, like the announcers, seem to forget that these girls’ careers as gymnasts are not over with the ending ceremony.
For this reason, I believe going to the Olympics at the age of 15,16,17, or 18 is one of the smartest things young girls like Douglas and her team could do. They don’t just give themselves a chance to win gold; they give themselves a chance to continue to succeed in their lives. What college would not give a young Olympic gymnast a full ride?
Like Gabby Douglas (as the media has made aware), for many athletes the financial struggle is just as tough, if not tougher sometimes, than the physical. For this reason I find Douglas and the Fierce Five to be very inspirational. There cannot be anything harder in the world than pushing your body to its physical limit and amounting your success to what you see on a scoreboard. Douglas and the team rightfully are celebrities now; however, to me they should be youthful America’s role models. College is possible for anyone who has the energy, drive, and guts to pursue it. Life does not stop when you turn 18. You choose when you want to be in your “prime.”