Among UCLA Anderson’s student body and alumni network are several U.S. Olympians, many of them medalists. As Rio 2016 escalates, we’re profiling five standouts who talk about their athletic team training and how an Anderson education influenced their esprit de corps.
By David Davis
Mike Altman (’07), Rowing, Lightweight Fours
2008 Beijing Olympics; 2004 Athens Olympics (alternate)
Rower Mike Altman experienced the highs and the lows of Olympic sports. Making the 2008 U.S. team represented the pinnacle of his career after “years and years of training, traveling all over the world, sacrificing and competing,” he said. He and his teammates finished 11th in the competition, which was the lowest international finish of his career.
“Growing up, watching the Olympics on TV, you see all the success stories,” he said. “What you don’t see is the 90 percent of the athletes that don’t win a medal. So, it was this mixed set of emotions: trying to enjoy the Olympic experience and dealing with the disappointment of our performance.”
Altman admits that he was “a little nervous” leaving rowing behind and becoming a student at Anderson. His certainty grew as he immersed himself in study groups during his second year. “It was a big boost for my confidence as I was transitioning from the sports world to the business world,” he said. “Being in these groups and feeling like I could really contribute, even when I was meeting with bankers and consultants, gave me a lot of confidence that my perspective was valuable in the business world.”
His experience as an Olympian rower has aided Altman’s success in business. “Learning to stay focused on the team’s agenda — and how I can contribute to that — was something I learned in the boat,” he said. “It’s really helped me out professionally. The question you’ve always got to ask yourself is, ‘Am I doing something that contributes to moving the team in the right direction?’”
San Francisco-based Altman works in commercial project development for Solar City, a solar power provider.