CON: Counterintuitive to success

With rising concerns about the mental and physical capabilities of young Olympians, both retired athletes and onlookers have called for a minimum age requirement to compete in the games. However, considering the sheer amount of time and effort these young athletes put into their training, adding a minimum age requirement to the Olympics would only prove counterintuitive to both the athlete and their respective country’s success in the games. 

The main reason why athletes start competing in the Olympics at such a young age is to showcase their athleticism while their bodies are in apt condition to handle the strenuous training that comes with international representation. 

Additionally, training at a young age gives athletes the largest window of time to perfect and showcase their sport, especially while they are in peak shape considering the agility and flexibility of young bodies. Even if these younger athletes were to suffer injuries, their bodies would recover faster than older athletes, adding to their competitive longevity. This, in turn, gives younger athletes an extended athletic career and more opportunities to compete in the Olympics. 

For example, swim legend Michael Phelps began his Olympic career at 15 years-old and though he returned home from Sydney empty handed in 2000, he won six gold medals four years later in Athens, sparking what would become the greatest Olympic career in history. Additionally, rising stars such as Chloe Kim, who won Olympic gold at 17 years-old and Nathan Chen, who made his Olympic debut at age 18, further prove that age should not be a defining factor to compete in the Olympics.

Moreover, considering most countries participate in hopes of winning the most medals and earning international recognition for their athletes, all talent should be represented, no matter their age. Especially for smaller countries with less opportunities to boost representation, adding a minimum age requirement would only harm their potential for recognition.

Although supporters of an Olympic age requirement may say that younger athletes have a weaker mentality and are more susceptible to developmental harm, age requirements would do very little to aid this cause, since they already compete in similar atmospheres such as world championships. Instead of having an age requirement, the Olympic committee should be more understanding of their potential vulnerability to such issues. 

As concerning as it may sound to have younger talent representing a country in the Olympics, these world class athletes deserve all the recognition they trained day and night to receive.