Six. That’s the number of Olympic gymnasts who can compete per country starting in 2020. That’s six athletes out of many hundreds of thousands of boys and girls who set their sights on the torches. Here, coaches from Everest Gymnastics, one of the most notable US National Team Training Centers in the country, answer a few common questions on how to become an Olympic competitor.
Q: How old do you have to be to join an Olympic team?
Everest Gymnastics: The minimum age to compete in the Olympics is 16. However, training begins at a much earlier age. Three-time Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas, for example, started training at age 6.
Q: What is the Junior Olympic program?
Everest Gymnastics: The Junior Olympic program serves as a model of competition for young athletes. It provides an opportunity to progress at an individual pace and to develop the foundational skills necessary to participate in professional gymnastics. Gymnasts must be four years old to enter as a level one. They are given opportunities to advance based on age, previous experience, and mobility scores.
Q: How many hours of training each week are necessary to be considered an elite athlete?
Everest Gymnastics: Athletic skill is both innate and learned. Students who wish to advance to pre-Olympic competitions typically train between 20 and 25 hours each week, six days per week. This leaves little time for anything other than school and training and is a path only the most dedicated athletes can follow, and it requires both personal dedication and the support of family and friends.
Q: Can I train at any gym?
Everest Gymnastics: While many facilities are equipped to meet the needs of recreational gymnasts, if your goal is Olympic glory or a college scholarship, you will need to find a center with the right equipment, availability, and coaching staff.