Tuesday, February 25, 2014

What It's Like to be the Parent of an Olympic Athlete

Throughout the training process and the Olympics themselves, the coaches of the competing athletes are recognized for their support and guidance. But what many people do not think about are the athlete’s other kind of coach- their parents. 

From the first moment the aspiring Olympian picked up their skis, skates, or hockey sticks, it was their parents who provided the emotional and physical (not to mention financial!) support- guiding them through the joy of victory and the pain of losses. It was the parents who provided the funds, who drove them around here there and everywhere for competitions, who encouraged them, and who celebrated with them during their wins and suffered with them through the heartache of defeat. And with their parent’s unwavering support, all of those years of injuries, sweat, tears, and smiles led them to their dream this winter- competing in the 2014 Sochi Olympics. We have heard many times what it was like for the athletes who competed- but it left me wondering, what was the experience like for their parents? 

Even for the regular audience members, witnessing the victory of an Olympic athlete can be a rush of emotions hard to describe, and for the parent, watching their child achieve their a whole new level. 
dream when they were first hand witnesses of the years of hard work and dedication, well, the emotions felt in that moment reach

This emotion could be seen on the face of Olympian Chris Hoy’s mother, Carol Hoy, as she witnessed her son win his sixth Olympic gold medal, becoming the most successful British Olympian ever. Unable to even watch, the mother covered her eyes and clapped her hands until she heard the roar of the crowd, indicating his victory, when she then abruptly burst into tears of pure joy. 

When interviewed, Cheryl Davis and Jacqui White, moms of the 2014 Sochi Olympians Meryl Davis and Charlie White, discuss the ups and downs of being a parent to an “lucky” Uggs she owns and wears the same jewelry that she wore during a victory, in hopes to repeat the win. Davis talks about how she brings a pad of paper and a pen to each game and writes down all the skater’s scores. She says it is more of a distraction from the nervousness than a superstition. 
Olympian. Both moms talk about how they have certain rituals and superstitions that have developed throughout the years and years of watching their children’s games. White laughs about how she always wears a pair of

One of the most interesting aspects of their interview was when both moms agreed that they hate the word “sacrifice” being used to describe what got their children to where they are today. While they agree that a tremendous amount of time and money was put into the years of training, to them it was work that they really enjoyed and really loved, so it doesn’t fall in the ‘sacrifice’ label.” 

When asked what it felt like to watch their children compete for the gold this year, the only word the mother could find in response was that it was a feeling that was “indescribable”.

So a huge thank you to all the parents out there who supported our Olympians through all of the crushing defeats and euphoric victories through this year’s Winter Olympics! And an additional thank you to all the parents who pour their time and support into their little athletes that will one day become Olympic hopefuls! 

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