The 2016 Summer Olympics are in full swing in Rio and there have been a number of standout American athletes that have become household names across Tennessee. However, earning a medal does not guarantee a lifetime of fame and fortune. While a handful of competitors may go on to play sports professionally or earn money from lucrative endorsement deals, for many competitors and the families whose support helped them achieve their goals, competing in the Olympics is the end of the road.
Some of the more high profile sports such as tennis and swimming are also some of the most expensive to train for, according to Wired. Tennis players tend to start their careers at a young age and, when training and travel are taken into consideration, yearly expenses can be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. The training for swimmers can also be expensive, in the realm of $100,00 per year.
While those who are able to capitalize on their success may end up earning millions, once the majority of athletes retire from competitive sports, they have no job history or work skills to fall back on since they have dedicated most of their lives to training.
Two of the standout athletes from the 2012 London Games were swimmer Ryan Lochte and gymnast Gabby Douglas. According to U.S. News and World Report, both athletes’ parents were experiencing financial trouble at the time those games concluded. Douglas’s mother ended up filing for bankruptcy after most of her money was spent on her daughter’s gymnastics training and Lochte’s parents were facing foreclosure of their Florida home. While one survey found that overall, Olympians are smart with their money, for some, the cost and dedication of a lifetime of training takes a heavy financial toll.