News / USA

Athletes Get Creative to Fund Olympic Trip

Hopefuls must pay for London ticket without official US support

Olympian Nick Symmonds sports the Hanson Dodge Creative logo, after the company won an eBay auction on his left shoulder.
Olympian Nick Symmonds sports the Hanson Dodge Creative logo, after the company won an eBay auction on his left shoulder.
Tom Banse

For American athletes, dreams of Olympic glory usually include scrounging for dollars. In the United States, the government provides no training support for Olympic-caliber athletes, so some elite athletes have developed creative personal fundraising ideas.

For 800-meter runner Nick Symmonds, the road to London goes through Kansas, Philadelphia and Los Angeles, where track meets will be held before the U.S. Olympic team trials in Eugene, Oregon, this June.

At the Kansas meet, where Symmonds finished in the middle of the pack, he wore a temporary tattoo of a twitter handle on his shoulder.

"I actually put my shoulder up for auction on eBay this last January," Symmonds says, "with more of the intention of raising awareness to the struggles athletes go through as they try to make ends meet and prepare for their Olympic dream."

A marketing agency from Wisconsin bought the ad space on his shoulder.

"Ultimately, Hanson Dodge Creative won with a bid of $11,100," Symmonds says, "which was significantly more than what I ever thought a couple square inches of my left shoulder would be worth."

This auction is one of the more creative gambits by America’s Olympic hopefuls. In some respects, Symmonds is better off than most. He has enough sponsorship so he can train for the London Games full time. Other athletes juggle hours of daily workouts and out-of-state competitions with part-time jobs that don't quite make ends meet.

In Seattle, distance runner Rose Wetzel and hurdler Falesha Ankton recently scheduled a joint fundraiser at a cocktail lounge.

"It felt kind of weird to have a fundraiser for myself and for my goals," Wetzel says. "But more and more people said that it was a great idea and that they wanted to support me and support us."

Wetzel also resolved her qualms by donating a third of the proceeds from the drink specials, ring toss and raffle to the Special Olympics.

Olympic long jump hopeful Norris Frederick (in white jacket) poses with "celebrity dates" at a fundraising auction in Seattle.
Olympic long jump hopeful Norris Frederick (in white jacket) poses with "celebrity dates" at a fundraising auction in Seattle.

 

Former University of Washington standout Norris Frederick hopes to punch his ticket to London in the long jump.

His fundraising hook was a celebrity date auction. You could bid to go out with the Olympic hopeful himself, or other famous athletes from the school, or members of the female Seattle Mist lingerie football team.

There's no lingerie on javelin thrower Cyrus Hostetler's personal website, but there are lots of bulging biceps. The site promotes his Olympic quest and solicits donations.

"Some sponsored athletes, they've got it made," Hostetler says. "They've got all the equipment they need. But when you’re still trying to make your mark in history and make those big throws, you've got to make you own ends meet. I've been trying to do that through my own website."

Eugene, Oregon's Cyrus Hostetler is a favorite to make the U.S. Olympic team in javelin.
Eugene, Oregon's Cyrus Hostetler is a favorite to make the U.S. Olympic team in javelin.

 

For a while, the University of Oregon grad posted his monthly budget in all its frugal detail.

"I struggle to make rent, to make food payments, things like that," Hostetler says. "I just want it to be an open book."

Unlike competitors in some other sports powers around the world, U.S. Olympic athletes receive no government support.

U.S. Olympic Committee spokesman Mark Jones says American athletes sometimes have to be more creative than others to support themselves, but he wouldn't say team USA is at a disadvantage.

"It's hard to argue that our system is broken when our teams have been as successful as they have been over the last several quadrenniums," he says.

Jones hasn't heard of any American athletes going as far as a luge racer from Tonga, in the South Pacific. Born Fuahea Semi, he legally changed his name to that of his sponsor, Bruno Banani. In case you don't recognize it, that's a German underwear and swimsuit brand.

You May Like

Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving With Feasts, Festivities

Feasts centering on turkeys with an array of traditional sides and desserts are part of the holiday's traditions, which falls on the fourth Thursday in November More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Paradei
X
Anush Avetisyan
November 26, 2014 10:57 PM
Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Parade

Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

Throughout the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, President Barack Obama has urged calm, restraint and respect for the rule of law. But the events in Ferguson have prompted him to call — more openly than he has before — for profound changes to end the racism and distrust that he believes still exists between whites and blacks in the United States. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Online Magazine Gets Kids Discussing Big Questions

Teen culture in America is often criticized for being superficial. But an online magazine has been encouraging some teenagers to explore deeper issues, and rewarding their efforts. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky went to this year’s Kidspirit awards ceremony in New York.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid