There are some careers that you can decide to pursue one day and walk into your first job in just a few months. You can take one course and test to sell condominiums or get a certificate to work as a legal secretary. Becoming a professional athlete that reaches the level of competing in world events like the Olympic Games is certainly not one of these. Many people start their training when they are still in elementary or high school and there are many steps that need to be taken along the way.
For most of the people that end up competing in a sport professionally it does not start as them thinking of that sport as a possible job. You need to be passionate about what you're doing and love it first as just a fun activity. You might have started by swimming every morning before school and went on to join a swimming team. Or you could have spent your winters on the ski hill with your family.
Once you start thinking of competing in a sport you will need to bring more than just passion and natural talent to the equation. Something that every person in an event of the Olympic Games has in common is their ambition and drive. While you're working in retail or at a store you will need to divide your time between that and several hours a week spent training and in the gym. You will also always need to be conscious of what you're eating and your personal health.
Usually reaching your potential as an athlete is as much about the people that you're working with as much as it is about your own determination. If you're longing to be a professional snowboarder than you might need to move to a place where you can surround yourself with the top coaches and challenge yourself against the best competition. You need to find teachers who can help you with your training and teach you all of the history and strategies associated with your particular sport.
Anything that's worth doing takes commitment and a lot of hard work. But those that want to be professional athletes also have to be brave and prepared for anything. While you can go to school and find a job relatively easily to help people learn another language or to work as a doctor even there is little certainty behind becoming a professional athlete. It's all about how you do in competition and there is always the worry of what happens if you become hurt along the way.