Canoeing: Casey Eichfeld (Men’s Canoe Slalom) and Evy Leibfarth (Women’s Canoe Slalom and Kayak Slalom and Kayak Cross)

Casey Eichfeld earns Paris spot (American Canoe Association)

Canyon Barry, a former college basketball star and Olympian, is no stranger to balancing his 9-to-5 job with preparations for the Paris Olympics.

As a nuclear engineer with a bachelor’s degree in physics and a master’s in nuclear engineering, Barry has been juggling his work and athletic career with remarkable dedication.

Casey Eichfeld (American Canoe Association)

Despite the challenges, Barry remains grateful for his employer’s support, acknowledging that it’s not always easy. Many elite athletes face similar struggles, working full- or part-time jobs to support their Olympic aspirations.

Sports psychologist Mark Aoyagi notes that this added pressure can be daunting, especially when compared to athletes from other countries who may receive government support. However, Aoyagi also highlights the remarkable ability of athletes to compartmentalize and manage their time efficiently.

Barry’s regimen is a testament to this skill, as he wakes up at dawn for weight training and yoga, works a full day at L3Harris Technologies, and then heads to the gym for basketball training. His experience playing NCAA Division I basketball while taking high-level STEM classes has prepared him for the demands of his current schedule.

While Aoyagi acknowledges the challenges faced by working athletes, he also worries about the potential impact on their performance. Despite their best efforts, even the most organized and efficient athletes may struggle to balance their responsibilities, potentially affecting their performance on the Olympic stage.