Olympic success isn’t enough for some athletes, with many going on to thrive in the business world as well…
More and more athletes are finding that the skills they gained during their sporting careers can be useful in the corporate world. Here are seven Olympians who have enjoyed just as much success in business as they did on the field of play.
Widely regarded as one of the finest basketball players in history, Magic Johnson won five NBA championships with the LA Lakers as well as an Olympic gold medal as part of the “Dream Team” at the Olympic Games Barcelona 1992. His business career has been even more successful, however, with the former point guard making shrewd investments in everything from coffee shops, fitness clubs and multiplex cinemas to insurance companies and the LA Dodgers baseball team.
After being crowned national champion in the floor exercise and balance beam, Carrie Englert earned a place on the USA gymnastics team for the Olympic Games Montreal 1976, placing sixth in the women’s all-around team event. Once her gymnastics career had ended, Englert and her husband, Curtis Zimmerman, founded The Zimmerman Agency – an advertising and public relations firm based in Florida. The company has since grown to become one of the leading PR firms in the USA, with annual billings in excess of USD 165 million.
Li Ning cemented his place in Chinese sporting history by winning six gymnastics medals – including three golds – at the Olympic Games Los Angeles 1984. After retiring from competition, the “little prince of gymnastics” – as he is known in his homeland – established his own sportswear brand that has grown to become one of the largest in China, placing Li among the wealthiest businessmen in the country.
Romania’s Nadia Comaneci was just 14 years old when she captured global attention at the Olympic Games Montreal 1976 by becoming the first gymnast ever to receive maximum points. She would claim five medals at those Games, making her one of the most famous athletes in the world, and has since gone on to establish several successful companies with her husband, fellow Olympic gold medallist Bart Conner, including a television production company, a gymnastics academy, a magazine and a gymnastics supply company.
Ethiopia’s Haile Gebrselassie established himself as one of the greatest long distance runners of all time, winning two Olympic gold medals and four world titles, as well as setting numerous world records. He subsequently used the earnings from his athletics career to become one of Ethiopia’s wealthiest businessmen, investing in property development, coffee plantations and gold mines.
Australian swimmer Michael Klim competed in three editions of the Olympic Games, winning two gold medals, three silver and one bronze. After retiring in 2007, he launched a line of male skincare products through his company, Milk & Co, and has since expanded the range to include women’s and baby products. Milk & Co products are now stocked in 13 countries around the world, reportedly generating more than USD 5 million in turnover per year.
A two-time Olympian in rowing, Judy Geer earned a Master’s degree in Engineering from Dartmouth College, which she later put to good use with husband and fellow Olympic rower Dick Dreissingacker in a business that manufactures rowing equipment. The company now makes the best-selling indoor rowing machine in the world, as well as innovative oars that are used by many leading rowers.
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