The Olympic Dream

Listen to this 'Talk of the Nation' topic

Adam Nelson, two-time Olympic silver medalist, heads to Beijing this summer.

Adam Nelson, two-time Olympic silver medalist, heads to Beijing this summer. Source: Andy Lyons/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Source: Andy Lyons/Getty Images

For many athletes, it's a driving goal, a dearest dream, the hoped-for pinnacle of a (young) life's work: the Olympic Games. For most, it's an impossible trip, as injury, expense, the four-year Olympic cycle, and plain old not-good-enough conspire to keep athletes away. For the lucky few, it's life-changing, and for the very lucky (and talented, and hard-working) few, it's a trip they make multiple times. And there, at the very top, you find the medal winners. Today we've got 2008 US Men's Gymnastics Team alternate David Durante, gold medal winning diver and '08 team member Laura Wilkinson, and Adam Nelson, who's won the silver in shot-put twice and heads to Beijing this year for another heave at the gold. They'll tell us all about their successes and failures en route to the dream, and we'd like to hear yours: did you share their dream of Olympic glory? How'd it turn out?

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I think it's hypocritical to call Olympic athletes amateurs any more - they are subsidized by corporations so they can work out '6 - 8 hours a day.' International sports competitions may or may not be a good thing (personally, I think the American obsession with spectatior sports is unhealthy) but, please, let's admit that these people are professionals.

Sent by Kathleen Schultz | 3:43 PM | 7-1-2008

Though there may be a few Olympians subsized with salaries and cush jobs by employers in the U.S., the large majority work regular jobs and make/take time before or after work to train and compete. Additionally, many Olympians can subsidize their own income via purse winnings and/or sponsorships. I agree that it is inappropriate to refer to Olympians as "amateur" since the rules have changed to allow professional basketball, baseball, tennis, etc. players to compete. However, given my personal relationships with many of the track and field athletes and those of other Olympic events, the very fact that they are able to maintain their physical conditioning, compete at a world-class level, and balance their work and home life takes an Olympic effort. Besides, anyone who is working out 6-8 hours/day is obsessively overtraining and probably won't make the team due to exhaustion.

Sent by Grant | 8:17 PM | 7-1-2008