Olympians' Parents Pay the Cost of Achieving Gold

The Cost of Olympic Gold

But for every Douglas and Lochte, where Olympic success breeds money, there are also podiums full of athletes like Jordyn Wieber, the U.S. gymnast who this year failed to qualify for the individual all-around competition, even though she had been the defending World Champion and hands-down favorite.

Wieber regrouped to win the team gold medal with Douglas and the rest of their "Fab Five" teammates but it's unlikely she'll receive anywhere near the endorsement money Douglas does, even though her parents probably spent just as much to get their daughter to London.

There are also the athletes in the less high-profile sports whose parents spend thousands to help them achieve their goals, only to return to everyday life soon after the Olympic flame is extinguished.

Fencer Maya Lawrence of New Jersey won a bronze medal in this year's Games with her Team USA teammates, but admits the cost of her Olympic ambition placed a strain on her family.

"It did affect my parents," she told Forbes of the thousands of dollars spent each year once she picked up the sport in high school. "Once I decided I wanted to go to competitions, they really supported me."

It's equally unlikely that you'll ever see the gold medal winner of the Olympic table tennis competition on the front of a Wheaties box, but their parents spend as much as $15,000 each year on coaches, custom-made equipment and competitions, according to Forbes. Training an archery star can cost $25,000 per year, but won't likely bring commercial endorsements.

These figures are in addition, of course, to the $12,000 to $14,000 a middle-class family can expect to pay to raise a child with no Olympic ambition each year, according to the USDA's annual report issued in June.

Miller, who went on to graduate from Boston College Law School, says she appreciates the way her own parents handled what can be a stressful situation, establishing her education as the priority and keeping the family's bank account out of the family's conversations.

"My parents didn't talk about how much money they specfically spent but I never took it for granted," she said. "They both worked full-time jobs and did everything they could to allow me to train, but they wanted me to be well-rounded so that, no matter what happened, I would be prepared for life after sport."

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