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

    Russian-Backed Offensive in Syria Pushes War to Tipping Point

    As threat to Aleppo and rebel forces grows, US plan to negotiate becomes less and less appealing for Syrian government, says one military analyst

    IS Runs Timber Smuggling Business in Afghanistan, Officials Say

    Government turning blind eye to smuggling, according to tribal leaders; Afghanistan's forest cover dropped by 50 percent in three decades, experts say

    Video White House Seeks $1.8 Billion to Combat Zika

    Obama administration says funding would 'support essential strategies to combat the virus' such as rapidly expanding mosquito control programs, accelerating vaccine research

    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.
    'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenyai
    X
    February 08, 2016 4:30 PM
    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video Sanders, Clinton Battle for Young Democratic Vote

    Despite a narrow loss to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in last week's Iowa Democratic caucuses, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders secured more than 80 percent of the vote among those between the ages of 18 and 29. VOA correspondent Aru Pande talks to Democrats in New Hampshire about who they are leaning towards and why in this week's primary.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.