Youngest Athlete In 2012 Olympics: Jordyn Wieber, David Boudia and the Education of an Olympian


With the Olympics here, it’s always interesting to delve into the lives of the competitors. Even for many elite athletes who are still in high school, it can be difficult to balance school and sports.

Some Olympians still keep everything “normal,” like Lithuanian Ruta Meilutyte. She is 15-years-old and one of four Olympians attending Plymouth College in Britain. The school of course, couldn’t be prouder. Headmaster Dr. Simon Wormleighton said, "To have four athletes from the same school competing in an Olympic Games is quite phenomenal.”

While a homeschooling or individualized education might help a teenager focus more on the sports, a public school education might lend itself  to a more stereotypical, or “normal,” life. It comes down to the student and how they work best. Some work better in the afternoon and some in the morning. While some might thrive in an independent environment, others might work better in a highly structured, classroom atmosphere. 

In the YouTube video “Raising An Olympian,” Jordyn Wieber’s mother talks about how she made a conscious decision to keep her daughter in public school. 

1) David Boudia:

Left public school to home school for his last two years of high school and focus on his diving career at the age of 16. Boudia participated in the 2008 Olympics, narrowly missing a medal with partner Thomas Finchum. He also dominated NCAA diving before turning pro in 2011 to concentrate on his training for the 2012 Olympic Games.

2) Haley Ishimatsu:

Trained at the National Training Center before the 2008 Olympics, and 2012 is her second time competing in the Olympic Games. Ishimatsu is one of only three women to perform a back 3 ½ pike, a dive usually done only by men. She told a reporter in 2008, "I've heard that high school social life is really just over-rated."

3) Thomas Finchum:

Paired with David Boudia in the 2008 Olympics for a near miss, but hopes to win a medal in 2012. Finchum was home schooled in academics and diving for a while. His grandmother, a former competitive diver, taught him his first dives.

4) Kelci Bryant:

Barely missed a medal at the 2008 Olympics, Bryant is determined to bring one home in 2012. After a year and a half of commuting four hours each way to train with her coach, Bryant moved to Indianapolis and was home schooled before the last Olympics. Afterward, she followed her coach to the University of Minnesota where she won two NCAA titles.

5) Anna James:

Only 15-years old, James has already performed well in international competition. This home schooled teen from Midland, Texas, is part of the U.S. National Team and is definitely one to watch.