When many people think of Florida they usually imagine serene beaches, warm weather and fun attractions. While these attributes are all intrinsic to the state, there is much more to Florida than meets the eye. Not often talked about is the fact that Florida has broken major ground in the athletic industry so much that the state is recognized by many as an ideal place for athletic training. This is mainly due to Florida’s athletic programs which are some of the best in the country. But it isn’t just Florida’s topnotch training programs that make it stand out in the world of athletics, it’s that Florida is an incubator of Olympians. Florida has managed to produce hundreds of Olympians and gold medal hopefuls throughout the years and the number continues to grow. To put things into perspective, this year’s Rio Olympics contains more than 20 Olympians that have ties to the Sunshine State. Most of these Olympians are current or former collegiate athletes from prominent Florida colleges, such as the University of Florida and the University of Miami.
What makes Florida such a hotbed of Olympians? A combination of weather, sports facilities, coaching, sponsors, and culture have everything to do with it. Florida’s weather creates the perfect training atmosphere for athletes. Warm temperatures and miles of beaches allow athletes from an array of different sports to practice their skills virtually any time of year and as often as possible. In regards to professional training, many of Florida’s colleges contain state of the art athletic facilities that are complete with the latest sports technology and equipment. Through these sports performance assets, athletes are presented with optimal training opportunities. Athletic scholarship programs are also an important factor to consider. Every year sponsors in Florida and from around the U.S. pour thousands to millions of dollars into athletic scholarship funds. With the opportunity for financial gain, a plethora of Floridian athletes are not only encouraged to participate in sports but they are also motivated to perform their very best. One of the most important, if not the most important factors that has made Florida such a hotbed of Olympians is the emphasis on sports held by many Floridians. From pee-wee sports to the collegiate level, Floridians take great pride in sports. Sports are often seen as a stepping stone for a better life. Parents of athletes spend countless hours and money on their children’s athletic endeavors. This support continues on all the way to the collegiate level where athletic programs are designed to empower athletes to advance in their respective sport and encourage them to strive for goals such as competing in the Olympics. That there are so many unique factors that contribute to the athletic prowess of Florida's athletes, it is no surprise the state is a breeding ground for Olympians.
With the 2016 Olympics underway, there is a great sense of pride to be felt knowing that so many of this year's competing Olympians have emerged from Florida. They are showing the world just how much of an impact Florida has made on them and their journey is one that other atheletes in the state can truly be inspired by. Here's to wishing Florida's Olympians all the best as they embark on their journey through the Olympics.