Commonwealth Games Blogs
Why athletes date athletes
I'm engaged. It happened a few weeks ago while I was in Russia visiting my fiancee. She's also an elite athlete - she won a silver medal in diving at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
I get asked all the time why athletes date other athletes. In my opinion, it all comes down to support.
Support for an athlete can come in many different forms. Of course, there's financial support, but there's also much more than that. We rely on the support of our families and friends and our loved ones. Their understanding of what we do and their encouragement is what can drive an athlete to perform at top levels.
In my experience, amateur athletes are misunderstood and undervalued because their lives look more glamorous than they actually are.
A lot of people tell me that I've got it made - I travel around the globe, I meet so many people ... they think I just have this freedom. This comes mostly from people who were never in athletics or have never known someone in athletics at the elite level.
Yes, I travel the world for competitions, but I rarely get to see the country I'm in because I'm often in the pool all day. Even when I get some down time, I'm usually getting rested up for the competition.
I live out of my suitcase during the spring and summer, which are the busiest times in diving. I've met a lot of friends in my travels, but I only get to see them when I visit their country. When I'm back in Edmonton training, most of my friends are other divers because those are the people I see on a daily basis.
That brings me back to the dating part. I've dated people who were not athletes, and they didn't understand why I was training so many hours, why I was so tired at night when I got home, and why I was away at competitions all the time. Not everyone was like this, but I found the majority were.
That's why it's easier to date an athlete. For me, diving is a lifestyle, and having a partner who understands that lifestyle and supports it makes my life a lot easier.
My fiancee and I have spent many years dating and being apart, mainly because we lived in different cities as we both attended separate universities in the U.S. But we both knew and understood each other's commitments and goals. This support makes it much easier to do something I love and want to do. It helps me work toward fulfilling my dreams of going to the Olympics and winning medals at various competitions, and it helps me pursue these goals to the best of my abilities.
Of course, support from people we hold close to us isn't the only kind of support elite athletes need. We also need financial help to continue what we're doing - to train the many hours required, to have good food to eat, to have access to massage, physio and supplements if needed. To be in peak form, athletes need to work very hard, and if you have a full-time job it could make your performance drop a bit.
Without my parents helping me, I don't think I could have continued in diving, as sponsorships are hard to come by. Canada is doing a great job with support - as illustrated by the 2010 Winter Olympics, where Canadian athletes achieved so much. The extra financial support they received helped, and knowing that all of Canada was behind them really encouraged our athletes to step up and perform.