CNN Photos

On the fringe of an Olympic dream

After years of working in Beijing, photographer Boris Austin had an urge to reconnect with what was happening in his native Britain. He returned to London in January and found athletes training for the upcoming Summer Olympics.

“I think I really missed home,” Austin said. “I needed to do something to connect with something happening back home. And obviously in 2012 the Olympics is huge.”

Athletes come from all over to train at Lee Valley Regional Park’s athletic center, hoping to qualify for a chance to compete in the Summer Games, which kick off July 27.

Austin found that some of the world-class athletes were guarded and difficult to approach. But during one of his visits, he had a chance meeting with UK athletics coach Julie Hollman. She granted him access to a few of the athletes.

Many of the women he met were heptathletes, who compete in seven track and field events: 200-meter dash, 800-meter run, 100-meter hurdles, the shot put, the javelin throw, the high jump and the long jump.

A few have had moderate successes at events such as the Commonwealth Games. But they’re not guaranteed to qualify for the Olympics. In fact, most, if not all, will fall short of their goals.

“They’re fringe athletes,” Austin said. “They’re right on the edge, so it’s really interesting.”

Adding to the pressure, many of these players aren’t sponsored. Some have support from their families. Others work odd jobs to raise funds and pay for their training.

They’re struggling not only to compete but to financially support their dreams of becoming an Olympic athlete.

“Their entire life, every day, all they’re doing is going and training,” Austin said. “And they might not even qualify. They might not even get anything or get anywhere.”

- Matthew Rond, CNN