There is a reason it isn’t called field and track. It’s no secret that the altius and fortius side of the sport receives significantly less love than their oval, citius counterpart. And that fact is reflected financially. 89% of track athletes who made the US team were sponsored, while just 50% of those in field events were. But that doesn’t take into account the college kids — of the 19 that made it, many may soon find themselves on the other side of a degree and left wondering where all the wonderful support and infrastructure suddenly went.
In many regards, college athletes have a huge advantage in comparison to many unsponsored professionals who are forced to budget their time, money, and energy carefully to make training and competing possible. This is where a federation might theoretically want to step in and help bring some level of equality between the two sides of the sport, however, the opposite is happening instead. USATF is cutting the budget of many athletes who are currently based out of the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista — the closest thing to a college environment that most top-level athletes, particularly field eventers, have available. The setup provides food, housing, coaching, and facilities for numerous athletes and has enabled the likes of Will Claye, Chris Bernard, Keturah Orji, Laulauga Tausaga-Collins, Rachel McCoy, Ariana Ince, Erica Bougard, and others to represent Team USA.
Imagine being so dedicated to wanting to be the best in the world at something that you are willing to still live in dorms to make that a reality! And despite this arrangement being incredibly effective at producing medals, those who benefited from the stability will now be forced to relocate and find new and likely less ideal situations. Rather than taking away the Olympic Training Center, we should be replicating it.
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