There are many different ways that athletes qualify for the Olympics. Each qualification differs depending on the sport. Certain sports require a top finish in a championship for an athlete to qualify for the Olympics whereas other sports may have a panel that handpicks specific Olympic hopefuls. Regardless of the qualification process in order to make the USA Olympic team an athlete must be at the very top of his field.
Gymnastic is one sport where a panel picks specific athletes. Athletes are picked for their ability to contribute to the team. In order for a gymnast to qualify for the Olympic gymnastic team they must be competing at world level meets. They also need to excel at every one of the all around apparatuses. A gymnast that has only one strong all around event is usually not chosen for the team. Although, the athlete may only get to compete in one of the events, which usually his strongest.
In track and field athletes qualify for the Olympics much differently. The United States of America Track and Field (USATF) sets up a standard that an Olympic hopeful must try to achieve. For example in 2008 a man needed to run the 100 meters in less than 10.07 seconds at a USATF or IAAF sanctioned event. There is a set number of athletes that will make up each team. If the standard is not met by that specific number of athletes a second standard is then applied. The second standard for track and field athletes to qualify for the Olympics games was 10.28 seconds in the 100 meter dash.
Even though the way an athlete qualifies for the Olympic team differs for each event, one thing remains the same. It takes determination and work for any athlete to qualify for an Olympic team. These men and women spend their days working toward only one goal, an Olympic gold medal.