Didn’t make the cut to head to Rio for this year’s Summer Olympics? No matter. There are plenty of places in the city that let you live out your fantasies of Olympic stardom. Read on for details, and get training for 2020. By Jessica Allen.
All told, athletes from around the world will compete in more than 40 types of sports during the 2016 Summer Olympics, including the modern pentathlon, water polo, handball, diving, equestrian dressage and badminton. Chelsea Piers doesn’t offer facilities for every summer Olympic sport, but, boy, does it ever come close. At this facility along the Hudson River, you can hit golf balls, play soccer, practice gymnastics, learn to box, and more. You can even sign up for a triathlon training program, whether you’re an expert or a newbie.
Inspire the kiddies in your life to aim high and reach for the gold by taking them to the Children’s Museum of Manhattan, which gives young folks the chance to learn about “themselves and our culturally diverse world.” The museum is celebrating the Olympics throughout the month of August with a wide range of activities. We’re pretty excited about the design-your-own-Olympic-medal workshop, for example, as well as the opportunity to learn capoeira, a Brazilian martial art that combines dance, movement, and music. Check the calendar for details and age restrictions.
Established in 1883, and dedicated to “the pursuit of excellence through the sport of fencing,” the Fencers Club offers classes and lessons, day camps, and support for people at all levels. We particularly love the community-minded focus of the organization, which includes partnering with NYC schools to teach students, as well as its code of honor, with its emphasis on civility and respect. Several members of the Fencers Club will be competing in Rio, among them Miles Chamley-Watson and Ibtihaj Muhammad (the first American Olympian to compete while wearing the hijab.)
The fine art of shooting a bow and an arrow has been around for eons (frankly, if we as a species hadn’t learned to hunt, none of us would be here). The sport made its Olympic debut in Paris in 1900, and was one of the first to allow women to participate. These days Olympic archers shoot arrows at speeds of more than 240 kilometers per hour. Want to see how you measure up? Head to Gotham Archery. Beginners are required to take the introductory class, taught by a USA Archery-certified instructor, while more practiced folks can head straight to the intermediate/advanced area.
Rowing, kayaking, paddle boarding, and similar sports have become very popular pastimes in New York City. In Rio, athletes will compete in events like rowing, sailing and the canoe sprint. The volunteer-driven Harlem River Community Rowing offers “quality, affordable, accessible rowing opportunities for all New Yorkers.” Rowing takes place seasonally from April through October, but the group holds training programs and events during the off-season too.
Beach volleyball became an official Olympic sport in 1996, during the Summer Olympics in Atlanta, but the sport has been around since the 1920s, when folks would gather in Santa Monica to bandy a ball about. In Rio, teams will compete on Copacabana Beach, one of the most famous beaches in the world. Here in New York, you can practice your serves and swerves in Hudson River Park. Sign up to play in a league, register to play with friends, or join the free community volleyball event on Saturdays, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.