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

Photogallery Ukraine: Russian Forces Tightening Grip on East

And new United Nations report documents human rights abuses committed by both sides in conflict More

Locust Swarms Fill Antananarivo Skies

FAO-led control efforts halted plague More

South Africa’s Plan to Move Rhinos May Not Stop Poaching

Experts say international coordination needed to follow the money trail and bring down rhino horn kingpins 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.
Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?i
X
Henry Ridgwell
August 29, 2014 12:26 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Pachyderms Play Polo to Raise Money for Elephants

Polo, the ancient team competition typically played on horseback, is known as the “sport of kings.” However, the royal version for one annual event in Thailand swaps the horse for the kingdom’s national symbol - the elephant. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Samut Prakan reports that the King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament is all for a good cause.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid