With the Olympics, the great thing about living in one country and coming from another is I get to cheer for both, because I have double the chance of celebration. Go Canada, Go Great Britain!
Having worked with a number of former athletes, the Olympics give me the opportunity to witness great triumphs and disappointments that are accompanied by wonderful stories. I appreciate and admire an athlete’s struggles and sacrifices. I am also struck by examples of this year’s younger winners being inspired, even mentored by some of the more established and successful athletes.
Joseph Schooling first met Michael Phelps when he was 13, during the Beijing Olympics when Phelps visited his local swimming club. Eight years later, he beat Phelps in the 100 metre butterfly to win the first ever gold medal for Singapore.
Over the years, the Olympics has become much more of a commercial venture, at least in some aspects. Although host nations seem to be almost guaranteed to lose money, brands like Nike and Under Armour and top athletes usually win. Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt have become huge personal brands, with significant endorsement deals and rewards for winning. Even Joseph Schooling earned $750,000 for his medal.
However, I am sure that most Olympic athletes do not ‘do it’ for the money. The investment in supporting them to get to world-class levels can cost a country’s association way more than the bonus for medaling.
For me, one of the best examples of the win being everything was the sheer surprise and joy on the face of 16 year old Canadian Penny Oleksiak when winning a gold medal. Money was not in that picture.
The Olympic brand and logo does have huge monetary and recognition value and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is almost manic about its control. This is in part to help protect the sponsors and the huge investments they make in wanting to be recognised and associated with the event.