Now that the 2004 Summer Olympics are underway in Athens, there’s endless spectator opportunities for armchair athletes the world over. But the folk at Cirque du Soleil are taking a rather more active interest. Scouts for the award-winning Canadian circus company are over in Athens as we type on a recruitment drive for fresh talent. Many of the key performers for Cirque’s shows – such as Saltimbanco, Dralion and Quidam - hail from the sports arena. That said, for Cirque, the winners aren’t always the winners. Despite being a former freestyle skiing Gold medallist from the 1992 Winter Olympics, the company’s talent scout Fabrice Becker says, “Olympic medallists aren’t always the best fit for a Cirque du Soleil show, because they often perceive themselves as stars and there’s never a star in our shows. The show is the star. That’s why we’re not necessarily interested in medalists.” If an athlete does make the transition, they can extend their performance career by anywhere from five to 20 more years. At the Olympics, the fields Cirque will be watching most carefully include acrobatics, athletics, swimming and martial artists.
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