During and prior to the Olympic games, athletes are in a complete whirlwind of excitement, sadness, anticipation and nerves. At this point in the Olympics, you'll find that the entire Olympic village is focused on one mission: to compete. In the eyes of every athlete, you see a fierce focus and you are instantly aware why these athletes are competing in the Olympics.
This rollercoaster of emotions and demands on the mind and body of an Olympic athlete are all part of the competition. My roommate, Erik Vendt, won a silver medal behind Michael Phelps in 2004. I awaited his arrival back to our room to talk to him about his amazing performance. The next day when I woke, Erik told me that because of media, drug testing and transportation, he arrived back into our room at 2am. This veteran Olympian continued to tell me that this kind of occurrence is not as uncommon as most would think.
To help the athletes cope with the physical and mental demands that are placed upon them during the Olympic games a huge support staff is working behind the scenes. This staff consists of massage therapists, race analysts, doctors, media directors, equipment managers and coaches. This staff works seamlessly behind the scenes to help create the most conducive environment possible for peak performances.
The strong support within Team USA also unfolds throughout the Olympic Games. As athletes in the stands watch their teammates compete at the Olympic games, we all find ourselves bonded to our teammate's performances and their pursuit for something bigger than themselves. To be able to stand on the podium and listen to the "Star Spangled Banner" play on the speakers and know that it is reaching millions of viewers in their homes creates an emotional jolt within, not only that athlete, but the entire USA team.
With this team support, momentum can also be achieved. The momentum that is carried throughout the competition can help drive athletes to accomplish amazing feats. This was seen in the 2008 Olympic games during the infamous men's swimming 4 x 100 Freestyle Relay, when Team USA came from behind and out touched France by 0.08 seconds. This event not only gave Team USA another gold medal but also helped Michael Phelps achieve his eighth and final gold medal in those Olympics.
The athletic performances at the Olympic games involve many uncontrollable elements, but the focus and support that the athletes receive enables them to reach their dream of competing at their fullest abilities during one of the largest events in the World.