Go for the Gold! Local Training Grounds for Future Olympians

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Our city may not be playing host to the Olympics anytime soon (D.C. bid on the 2024 games, but lost…waaahhh!), but you can still celebrate Rio’s summer games on a local level. From learning the breaststroke from a gold medalist to practicing the ancient sport of boxing, the following athletic pursuits will make your favorite champion feel like an Olympian.

16664456696_ccd19ab2d1_zPhoto: Parker Knight

Golf will once again be part of the Olympics this summer (it hasn’t been a part of the games since 1904); celebrate it’s return with The First Tee, an international youth development organization focused on introducing the sport of golf to children through after-school and in-school programs. There are nearly a dozen programs in the DC Metro area, including courses through East Potomac Golf Course (Washington, DC), Washington Golf and Country Club (Arlington, VA), Langston Golf Course (Washington, DC), Kentland Golf Course (Landover, MD), Rock Creek Golf Course (Washington, DC) Westpark Golf Club (Leesburg, VA), Sterling Golf and Swim Club (Sterling, VA),  Algonkin Golf Course (Sterling, VA) and Henson Creek Golf Course (Ft Washington, MD).

Online: thefirsttee.org

It’s not often your child can learn from a true Olympian, but at the Tom Dolan Swim School (Dulles, Virginia), your little one (from three months and up) can learn at a facility run by a two-time gold medalist! Tom, who trained for the Olympics in Arlington, Virginia, often stops in to check on his students. You don’t need to be an enrolled student to enjoy this Olympian’s pool; the facility also hosts a “Family Swim” three times a month! For $5 a person (a total of $20 maximum per family), you and your crew can enjoy a dip together.

Online: tomdolanswimschool.com

Indoor volleyball has been a part of the summer games for over fifty years. There is no better place to learn the sport than at the YMCA, which was integral in the spread of volleyball internationally!  There is still time to enroll in the YMCA’s Anthony Bowen branch (1325 W Street NW) for a week-long volleyball camp (ages 7-12; August 8-12). Already know how to serve and spike? Share your volleyball knowledge with your younger set on the beach courts in West Potomac Park (reservations are $30 for 2 hours). Beach volleyball — arguably one of the more popular tickets at the Games — was first introduced in 1996.

Online: ymcadc.org or parkplanning.nps.gov

For Olympic purists (boxing was a mainstay in the ancient games — along with running, jumping and equestrian games), check out the Department of Parks and Recreation’s boxing program. Held at the Dr. Arnold W. McKnight Boxing Annex at the Bald Eagle Recreation Center (100 Joliet St SW),  boys and girls age 8 and up get Olympic-style training under the Sports, Health and Fitness Division. This program aims to train kids to compete in amateur boxing matches.

Online: dpr.dc.gov

This year will mark the 80th anniversary of kayaking in the summer olympics. Celebrate eight decades of rolls and carps with Liquid Adventure’s middle and high school program. For children age 11 and up, the Potomac River-based school offers after-school courses (starting in the fall). The program runs six consecutive weeks. Bonus: the kayaking school runs buses from many of the area’s local schools.

Online: liquidadventureskayakschool.org

Taekwondo was first demonstrated at the 1988 Seoul Games; it did not become a medaling sport until 2000. The free-fighting combat sport is practiced at strip mall dojo’s across the country, but if you want your child enrolled in Olympic-style classes, you’ll need to head to Bel Air, Maryland. Under the leadership of Se Yong Chang, the U.S. Taekwondo Academy has been training national champions for decades.

Online: selfdefensecoursebelair.com

Do you have a future Olympian? Where do they train for their sport? Tell us in the comments section below.

–Meghan Meyers