Too Old to Start Training for Olympics?

Hi, I am 15 years old turning 16 soon.

I started gymnastics when I was 3 years old then dropped after half a year because of the coach. I went back when I was 5 years old and continued until I was 9. I went to a gym that doesn’t do levels. So I just did it for fun and to learn new skills. We didn’t learn how to do flips and all that stuff. I then did netball from 2005 until 2008. I went back to gymnastics last year, and only did around half a year and I was put in the advanced group, I do 2 hours a day twice a week. Currently am in the advanced still. We only have training twice a week for 3 hours each. This year, we have been doing different skills from different levels.

I love gymnastics, it’s my passion. I really want to do levels and compete, but my parents don’t have the money to send me to a better gym.

I was just wondering if I go to a gym that competes in levels, what level would I be put in? and would my dreams to go to the Olympics be possible? People keep telling me, it IS possible if I put my mind into it and train really really hard. That’s what I’ve been doing but I still don’t do flips and all that stuff. I can do the splits, cartwheel, handstand, headstand, bridge kickover, front walkover, front handspring and all the basic stuff.

It would mean so much to me if you tell me it is possible to make it big.

I am 15 like I said before, just under 5’1″ and I weigh 51kgs and am female.

Thanks so much.

I Know It Can Be Done – Age Is Not The Limiting Factor

Look, I am more positive about what can be done in gymnastics and life than almost anyone that I know. I have a good friend, who is still winning National Championships and International medals, in her mid 30’s. Oksana Chusovitina is still winning World Championship and Olympic medals in vaulting in her mid 30’s. Age is not the limiting factor in whether one can train and make the Olympics.

Plan on Training 8,000 – 10,000 Hours in the Next 5 – 9 Years

In the post about the 10,000 Hour Rule it explains that to become an excellent gymnast, successful Elite athlete, and then hope to possibly become an Olympian, gymnasts must train for 10,000 hours of practice. 10,000 hours of practice is the equivalent to working full-time, 8 hours per day for the next five years before the 2016 Olympics. Most gyms only have team training for around 4 hours per day, so it would take 8 – 10 years at that rate to get all the training in.

You Likely Won’t Get There With Less Hours

Even assuming that you have some basic gymnastics training as a start, you really have to expect to do that much work and that many hours of serious, purposeful training. Many people don’t realize how much training time it takes to get to an Elite and Olympic level. Some gymnasts are able to get to the Elite level with less hours of training, but 8,000 – 10,000 hours is a good estimate of the time that needs to put in.

There’s a Financial Price

There are a number of prices that have to be paid for becoming an Olympic gymnast. We just talked about the price in time that must be spent. There is a financial price as well, of course, which is the cost of training at a suitable gym. Not every gym is capable of training an Elite or Olympic gymnast.

Your Life Will Not Follow the Normal Path

Parents are another critical factor in becoming an Olympic athlete. Since you will be working out and training so much, you will likely not be able to work for a living and will need financial support from your parents during the entire training time. Normally at around age 18, young people either go off to college or go to work. Athletes training this intensely usually don’t do either one of those. They just train. There are notable exceptions to this rule, but mostly in other sports. There have been some Olympic and world class athletes who worked full-time and trained, but it is difficult. For example, getting time off from work to compete is not always possible at a normal job.

Need the Right Olympic Gym

Spending 10,000 hours, but training in the wrong gym, with the wrong coaches and in the wrong training program would not likely work. The safest plan is you must find a gym that has already produced Olympians and train there. You know their gym, coaches and program can train you to meet all our goals.

Pay All the Prices Demanded

There is an effort price to be paid. 10,000 hours of training in 5 years, or 9 years (time until 2020) requires a lot of effort, drive and determination to accomplish. It must be the biggest and most important thing in an athletes life, if they are to accomplish it. So, if you really want this:

  • Get really strong
  • Get really flexible
  • Find an Olympic gym
  • Train 10,000 hours
  • Achieve your goal

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