Given the level of dedication it takes to be an Olympic athlete, it’s not surprising that many former Olympians are trying their hand at their own business ventures. The parallels between top-line athletes and entrepreneurs are many, as both require the vision to set goals and the tenacity to see those goals through. There is also the need for an ability to take risks and remain calm under pressure, as well as a tolerance for the hard work and long hours that training to be the best in your sport and launching a new business require.
Olympian gold medalist Kristi Yamaguchi is set to launch her new active wear clothing line this fall under her company name Tsu.ya at the upscale department store Lord & Taylor. Inspired by her very successful career as a competitive skater, Yamaguchi has designed a line of t-shirts and yoga pants that are as comfortable as they are fashionable. For Yamaguchi, this business venture has become another way to support her nonprofit Always Dream Foundation for kids, as a portion of the sales will go toward this cause.
Jaycie Phelps, a member of the 1996 Magnificent Seven gold medal girls’ gymnastic team, has turned her energy and attention to a new business venture: the founding of the Jaycie Phelps Athletic Center in Indiana. Launched in 2010, Phelps’ gym has grown into a successful enterprise that trains more than 400 kids in gymnastics, cheer tumbling, baseball, and softball.
Men’s combined alpine skiing gold medalist Ted Ligety founded his business Shred Optics and launched his own goggle line that same year. Given his extensive experience on the slopes, he had a vision of creating a balance between the functionality of good racing goggles and style. Ligety’s company has since grown to a global venture and has expanded to include other racing accessories such as helmets and sunglasses.
Some Olympians have pursued their dreams while simultaneously making a foray into the business world. Nick LaCava, who is currently competing in men’s rowing in the 2012 London games, is also one of the three co-founders of a custom chocolate bar company called Chocomize. He started this business along with two college friends when faced with a particularly tight job market after graduation, and continued to grow it while training until recently when he left the company to focus on this summer’s games. Offering a unique services where customers can add various toppings into their chocolate, Chocomize has been very successful, increasing its sales by almost 100 percent from 2010 to 2011.
Kim, Erin. “Olympians Going for Startup Gold.” CNNMoney. 8/3/2012. (8/5/2012.) http://money.cnn.com/gallery/smallbusiness/2012/08/02/olympics-startups/?iid=SF_SB_Lead.