I'm sitting here on the couch, watching the US Olympic Trials for swimming. It is fun watching the flow of a top-level swim meet, and seeing the superstars do their best to do 'just enough' to qualify, but not drop hints about their form and physical capacity.
Hearing the interviews of new Olympic team members is riveting. These are athletes reaching the very pinnacle of their sport, punching a ticket to The Big Show. Watching this, I can't help but think that there is a fairly clear path for the Olympic hopeful swimmer. Find out when and where Olympic Trials are, figure out what time cuts are required, MAKE those, register. Show up in shape. Race your heart out and cross your fingers that Michael Phelps is getting old.
I'm a little bit envious of this system. I'm on the warpath in a sport that has a less-clear pinnacle. The path that one takes to get to that pinnacle? I have no clue.
Do you network your way onto teams that have phantom connections to a larger-scale teams?
Do you podium at certain high profile races?
Do you get important people to vouch for you?
I HAVE NO IDEA.
The same goes for triathlon. Where is the top of that sport? Kona Qualification is something big, but doing an Ultra-Distance World Championship is more of a split between insanity and athletic endeavor. Worlds are cool, but there are regional races that are more competitive (and more covered) than Worlds. Even earning a 'Pro' card is not as 'there' as being a SPONSORED Pro.
I feel like there is no path for me. If there is, I missed the sign a long time ago, and am too deep into the woods to just turn back and find the trailhead. Instead, I'm trailblazing through the bush carrying a machette and a compass. Sometimes things work out well, other times i metaphorically go hungry. I'm sure I'll eventually rendezvous with the trail far along, or fall off a cliff, or get eaten by lions on the way.
Any way it works, I'll continue blazing through the jungle, swinging away. If anyone has any suggestions, I'm all ears!