Becoming an Olympian is a full-time job and a grueling one at that.
There are many obstacles along the way. Time is against you, the odds are against you and the pay along the way can be minimal or altogether non-existent.
Years or even decades of training can come down to less than a couple minutes of competition. You need to be able to compete at the highest level on the biggest stage in an unknown country in front of thousands in the crowd and millions at home. The pressure is unimaginable and the stakes are high.
While some Olympians are already professionals such as NBA and tennis players or golfers and others like Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt can turn gold medal performances into million-dollar endorsements, with over 10,500 competing athletes most Olympians toil in relative obscurity to realize their dream and must work hard to succeed athletically and also make a living.
Here are 6 Olympians who work hard to represent their country and still have time for business:
Alex Naddour – Real Estate Agent, United States
Naddour is a four-time National champion in pommel horse and, after being named as an alternate for the United States in London in 2012, finally became on Olympic athlete for Rio 2016. File all those feats are impressive, they are not enough for Naddour to pay the bills, so Naddour took to real estate in his home state of Arizona allowing him both the ability to earn for himself and his young family while also giving him the freedom and looser schedule to train and represent his Country at the summer games.
Raheleh Asemani – Letter Carrier, Belgium
Raheleh Asemani will be representing Belgium in Tae Kwan Do in Rio but her story is one of the most unique ones of the summer. Firstly Asemani only became a Belgian citizen on April 13th, less than 4 months before the opening ceremonies. Having been born in Iran she moved to Belgium as a refugee in 2013 while continuing to pursue her dreams as an Olympian.
Not only was Raheleh able to qualify for the Games despite the turmoil in her personal life and not knowing for which, if any, country she could represent in the Games – she was able to do so while also working as a letter carrier in her adoptive, and now permanent, home.
Chris Wyles, Craft Beer Brewer, United States
Both traditional rugby (15 a side) and Rugby 7’s are back in the Olympic Games in 2016 after nearly 100 years of absenteeism, making for a number of first-time Olympians in Rio including American Rugby player Chris Wyles.
While playing rugby in England, Wyles and his pro-rugby teammate Alistair Hargreaves discovered they not only had their respective love of sport in common, they also loved beer.
Teaming together the two created their own craft brewing company – Wildman Craft Lager. Somehow training as a full-time rugby player while trying to qualify one’s Country for the Olympics was not enough for Wyles.
Olympian, pro-rugby player, and brewmaster – the new triple threat.
Kazuki Yazawa, Buddhist Priest, Japan
Okay, perhaps being a Buddhist Priest isn’t exactly the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks of the term “hustle” but Japanese canoeist Kazuki Yazawa works hard to balance both. Although this is Yazawa’s third time at the Summer Games having previously competed in Beijing and London, respectively, it is his first since taking his vows as a Priest in 2013.
Tia Toomey, Crossfitter, Australia
When Tia Toomey finished second at the 2016 CrossFit games in July, she had a consolation prize that no other athlete in the competition had – a chance at Olympic gold. Despite the CrossFit Games and the Rio Olympics being less than a month apart, Toomey qualified for and competed in both earning her second consecutive runner-up in CrossFit and finishing 5th while representing Australia in the Women’s 58 kg weightlifting.
While there’s no medal for 5th place, 2nd place earned Toomey $75,000 and motivation to win in 2017.
Nathalie Marchino – Twitter, Colombia
Up at 5:30, training by 6 am, and in the office at Twitter for her start time of 8 am. That’s how Nathalie Marchino spent every day in pursuit of her Olympic dreams.
While a lot of athletes look to funding, part-time jobs, and other support, Marchino managed to reverse the trend and somehow make the Olympics her side-hustle while working a full-time job. Succeeding at both while sacrificing pretty much everything else.
Hard, yes. Rare, even more so, but worth every minute.
Nate Ebner, New England Patriots, United States
While it may seem like a logical step for a professional athlete to strive for the Olympics, in fact, Nate Ebner of the New England Patriots made history in 2016 by becoming the first active NFL player to participate in the Olympics. In fact, Ebner’s first love was rugby, playing Internationally during his first few years of college before playing football competitively before eventually making the unlikely leap to the National Football League. Despite success in the NFL and even winning a Super Bowl with the Patriots in 2014, Ebner could not go without
It’s not about having enough time in the day. It’s not all about sponsorships (though they help). It is about prioritization and drive. It’s not only the willingness to compete and the athleticism but the drive, the sacrifice and the unflinching desire to achieve a goal.
For every Bolt or Gabby Douglas, who were both skilled and lucky enough to earn off their successes, there are 100s more Olympians who are not as fortunate yet work just as hard to make their dream a reality.
It’s hustle in training, in life and day and in day out to achieve what so very few ever attempt let alone succeed to do. It’s not always about the medals, but the competing itself and the story behind every athlete’s journey.
Do you have a side hustle? What would you describe as your ideal side business? Let us know in the comments – If you don’t have an idea – Here’s a few that could help: