An Athlete In A Clown Suit
Oct 15, 2012Posted by james

Many stories of hard work, sacrifice, joy and tears flowed from the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Some of the young faces will be seen again for another and maybe several more Olympics, while others, especially those who did not stand on the winners’ podiums, will recede to the background and fade from memory.

What becomes of them? One story you may not have heard about involves a 48-year-old gymnast from Great Britain who now wears a clown suit.

Terry Bartlett competed in three Olympic Games. He performed on all the gymnastic apparatus but never won a medal. Today, and for the last 20 years, he has performed with a red nose and floppy shoes 10 times a week in a Las Vegas Cirque du Soleil show.

Cirque has hired many former Olympians over the years. They have defined talents that allow them to leap, tumble, flip and swing, and occasionally sing and dance when needed. They bring a level of skill and work ethic that is central to Cirque’s productions.

Bartlett has been in his post-Olympics career for 20 years now. He started when he was 28 after the 1992 games. Two of his teammates became teachers and another two joined the military. He decided to take what he learned for most of his life and turn it into a professional career. He probably had second thoughts at his audition when the casting director asked him to make monkey noises.

Not every Olympian sticks with the circus show. But for those who do, salaries range from $50,000 to hundreds of thousands for people with special talents.

For Bartlett and the many others who have made the leap from Olympians to Cirque performers, the conversion does have unique challenges. They include classes for acting, dancing, voice work and improvisation.

Maybe not what an Olympic athlete had in mind during all those youthful years of training. But, the hard work, sacrifice, joy and, yes, the tears, did pay off. For some, it did not include a medal. But for most, it did lead to a good living.



  • By amy barkan, October 17, 2012 @ 9:19 am

    Like the new site…and always great to read and be inspired by a fellow HHH graduate. Excelsior!

  • By Brooke Bakker, March 7, 2014 @ 5:00 am

    Jim, Thank you for sharing! I absolutely love Cirque du Soleil!!! Especially the Beatles performance in Vegas. I took my son to see when he was very young…it was truly a magical moment for both of us!

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