The cost of becoming an Olympian

Like the majority of sports obsessed children, I used to love watching the summer Olympics. I started to ride horses before I could walk, and spent my evenings, weekends and school holidays improving my riding and jumping skills. By the time I was 14 I had lofty ambitions of being selected to represent my country in showjumping at the Olympics.

Although I stopped riding when I was 17, I have continued to follow the sport. Watching Nick Skelton finally win an individual Olympic gold medal last week on his horse Big Star at the age of 58 was amazing. Nick had been forced to retire after breaking his neck in 2000, but returned to the sport two years later.

Perhaps I could come out of retirement? Watching the showjumping got me thinking about the possibility of me competing for Team GB at the next Olympics in Tokyo in 2020. How much would it cost and how many hours of training would it take?

Voucherbox recently conducted some research to determine exactly how much it would cost and how long it would take to train to become an Olympic qualifier in time for Tokyo 2020. Researchers looked at the time and financial investment required to master a wide variety of Olympic sports in time for the next Olympics.

Researchers found that aspiring Olympians train for an average of five and a half hours per day, six days a week. However, the vast differences of hiring world-class coaches and buying equipment across different sporting disciplines led to some massive differences in the cost of achieving that elusive Olympic dream.Olympic-infographic


I was surprised to read that researchers found that triathlon was the fastest sport to master – requiring an average time investment of just 5200 hours over the next four years. I had always assumed that having to master the three components of triathlon – swimming, cycling and running – would take longer than a sport such as Judo or Badminton.

Unfortunately, the cost of mastering an equestrian sporting discipline such as showjumping – £468,000 for four years – immediately rules me out of Tokyo 2020. To start now and be ready for Team GB’s equestrian team in 2020 I would have to put in a massive 6240 hours of training. I sometimes struggle to find the time to complete four training runs a week, so suspect that dedicating 30 hours per week to horse riding would be impossible.

If you could represent Team GB in any sport at an Olympic Games, which sport would it be?

Do you think it’s possible to progress from a beginner to an Olympian in just four years?

**This post was written in collaboration with Voucherbox**


2 thoughts on “The cost of becoming an Olympian

  1. wanderwolf says:

    Running, swimming and riding require one lesson in form, and then just practice to mostly get the aerobic fitness. All other sports require a lot of technique and therefore more practice to get different techniques down. It makes sense.
    Is the cost for equestrian also for the horse?
    And woah! I didn’t know you were so good at riding!


    • Emma says:

      I would definitely need dozens of lessons to unlearn all of my bad habits and to relearn how to swim efficiently!
      I don’t think the cost of equestrian includes the horse. Some of the top level horses sell for ridiculous amounts of money. Horse riding is such an expensive sport, it probably a good job I switched to running!

      Liked by 1 person

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