US Olympic & Paralympic Training Center: One of the factors behind US sports dominance in international elite sport
October 18, 2019
The United States has been the world’s best sports nation since the turn of the millennium, especially because of the great dominance of the Summer Olympic disciplines. The United States’ dominance in international elite sport was most recently confirmed at the 2016 Rio Olympics, where athletes and teams from the United States won a total of 121 medals, including 46 of gold. In second place in the national competition, Great Britain came with a total of 67 medals, of which 27 were gold, while China was No. 3 with 70 medals, of which 26 were gold. Also, based on the past 3 years of World championship results in 33 different sports and 339 disciplines on the program at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, there is no doubt that the United States is a big favorite to win the national competition again.
Many of the US top athletes and teams, including swimming, gymnastics, wrestling, boxing and shooting, have their training facilities at the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. The center also contains the US Olympic & Paralympic Committee’s administration and many federations also have their administration in Colorado Springs, which will open the world’s largest sports museum and Hall of Fame next year. The center was established in the late 1970s and is today one of the absolute best training centers in the world with rooms for 140 athletes, coaches and experts, training facilities, restaurant, services for the athletes within sports medicine, physical therapy, nutrition, sports psychology and performance analysis. The center is often used for training camps for the best athletes and teams, in preparation for the largest national and international championships, such as Pan American Games, World Championships and Olympics.
The Olympics have great status and prestige for all American athletes, including in commercial sports such as basketball and ice hockey. “The Olympics have always been something special for the United States and the nation’s top athletes. Athletics and swimming are the biggest sports for us at the Summer Olympics, while ice hockey is the biggest sport at the Winter Olympics. However, we work every day to be represented in all sports and also preferably to be among the medal winners. Fortunately, we have many athletes who qualify for both 3, 4 and 5 Olympic Games,” says Susie Parker-Simmons, high performance director for the US Olympic Committee & Paralympic Committee. The USOPC is collaborating with all 28 federations that can qualify athletes and teams for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and all 7 federations that can qualify athletes and teams for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. “We are optimistic about the upcoming Olympics, but we can also see that many federations find it difficult to retain the greatest talents that are attracted to professional and collegiate sports such as tennis, golf, American football, baseball ice hockey and basketball. In these sports, opportunities to get attractive financial scholarships in college or universities are far greater than in sports such as wrestling, archery, bobsleigh and figure skating”
At the US Olympic & Paralympic Training Center, athletes have access to a range of services at the highest international level. The center has an interdisciplinary sports medicine team made up of doctors, physiotherapists, dietitians and chiropractors. Also, the center has a training facility where athletes and coaches can get advice and guidance on discipline-specific strength and endurance training programs. The area also contains state-of-the-art technological equipment that can be used for biomechanical analysis. There is also a training facility where the athletes can practice under various climatic conditions, such as altitude, heat and humidity. This training facility will be an essential tool for many athletes in preparation for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which will present major challenges, especially in relation to humidity.
“We are constantly trying to optimize the conditions for our top athletes by the use of new technology in the daily training and competitions. In relation to winter sports we can see that Sweden and especially Norway have a lot of top athletes in sports such as cross country skiing, biathlon, Nordic combined and alpine skiing. We saw this most recently at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, where Norway won no fewer than 39 medals, 14 of them gold. We do not have the same opportunities to recruit talents through strong clubs as in the Nordic countries. Only in a few states such as Colorado, Utah and New York can we offer athletes good training conditions and we often have to travel on long-term training and competition stays in Europe. At the last Winter Olympics, however, we showed that we can defeat world class athletes from both Norway, Sweden and Finland, as Kikkan Randall and Jessica Diggens won the gold medal in team sprint for women – this preformance we are very proud of”, says Susie Parker-Simmons, who was born and raised in Australia but has now been working for the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee for more than a decade.
You can find more information about the US Olympic & Paralympic Committee at https://www.teamusa.org/About-the-USOPC and about the US Olympic & Paralympic Training Center at https://www.teamusa.org/About-the-USOPC/olympic-paralympic-training-centers/csoptc/about