Nov. 15, 2010, 3:36 p.m. (ET)

The Olympic Games invoke different individualized emotions depending on the level of involvement.

Viewers enjoy both the heartwarming and heart wrenching stories combined with the athletic feats. Athletes revel in the camaraderie, competition and drive to be the best.

Organizers and IOC members enjoy seeing the years of arduous work come to fruition.

Bob Ctvrtlik is one of the lucky members of the Olympic Movement that had a chance to both enjoy and promote the Movement from all aspects both internationally and domestically.

What made Ctvrtlik a successful Olympian is the same thing that makes him a thriving leader and businessman today.

Ctvrtlik’s journey to three-time Olympian, two-time medalist and U.S. team captain was not a sure thing from the start. First of all, competitive volleyball is not the easiest thing to become a part of as a young, athletic boy.

A majority of sports influences point young boys toward the more popular and available sports. In Ctvrtlik’s case his athleticism and lean build made him the ideal archetype for basketball and tennis, two sports he played and excelled at all throughout school. 

When he was 11 years old he was introduced to the sport of volleyball.  He loved it, but was only able to play during the summers.

Ctvrtlik’s athletic ability provided him with some fantastic opportunities. He earned scholarships in both tennis and basketball to some great out-of-state universities. Yet he turned them down to stay closer to his Long Beach, Cali., home to be near his ailing father. It was that decision that sparked his journey to becoming an Olympic star.

Ctvrtlik enrolled in Long Beach City College where he played intercollegiate volleyball. In 1983, his LBCC Vikings Men’s Volleyball team won the state championship and Ctvrtlik was awarded the most valuable player in the state championships.

The following year, he got his first taste of NCAA competition when he transferred to Cal State Long Beach where he was named Second Team All-American.

After a year at Cal State, he transferred to a more prestigious program at Pepperdine University where he led the Waves to a National Championship and earned Player of the Year honors.

For many athletes, the thrill of being a National Champion is often the peak of a sports career.

Ctvrtlik was ecstatic with his success in education and sports, but he was not content. He forwent his final year of eligibility to train for the Olympic team.

In his first Olympic experience Ctvrtlik led the U.S. pass the Soviet Union to take home the gold medal at the 1988 Olympic Games.

Ctvrtlik was part of the bronze medal team in 1992 and was named the captain of the team at the 1996 Olympic Games.

Three Games was enough for Ctvrtlik and though he treasured his Olympic playing career, he fully expected to move back to California and put all his efforts into business.

Though Ctvrtlik loved and appreciated everything the Olympic Movement did for him, he had no real interest or desire to stay involved. He had a successful real-estate business and wanted to continue to pursue those possibilities.

But during the 1996 Games, Ctvrtlik said he was approached about running for a position in the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) Athlete’s Commission.

“Sports has always been such a huge part of my life and I heard there was an opportunity to combine working internationally with sports - both of those are huge interests for me,” he said.

“I grew up in a household where my father was first generation from Czechoslovakia and I feel very, very comfortable in an international setting, so it just seemed to make sense.”

Ctvrtlik was selected and his time as an Olympian shaped his every decision.

 “We would debate issues,” he said. “ I would give input and working with the [United States Olympic Committee (USOC)] athlete advisory counsel so I would act as a face of the United States to the IOC along with the other IOC member as well as a voice for the positions of U.S. athletes, but also, importantly, the world’s athletes.”

One of the things Ctvrtlik is most proud of during his time serving for the Athlete’s Commission is the creation of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).”

Ctvrtlik said doping was a hot button issue for him, both because people came up and asked him if his teammates were doping and because of an experience he had in Seoul.

“I was at the Olympics in Seoul when Ben Johnson, after winning a spectacular sprint race had to forfeit his medal. I watched it just crush the spirit of the entire Canadian team and their dorms were right next to ours in the [Olympic] Village, and just to watch an entire team go from elation to just devastation really made an impact on me.”

WADA was created to provide consistent doping rules and testing regulations for all the countries that are part of the IOC.

Besides being a founding member of WADA, Ctvrtlik did everything from helping pick out menus for Olympic Games to representing athletes’ rights to what kinds of uniforms athletes were allowed to wear.

Ctvrtlik said he also supported having the IOC be accountable to both athletes and organizers.

“We tried to figure out how to create more transparency and have a greater connection to the modern day Olympic Movement.”

After attending The Olympics first as an athlete and second as an IOC member, Ctvrtlik said he had a greater appreciation for the work it takes to put on such a large-scale event.

“One thing that is interesting is that as an athlete you have no idea the amount of preparation that it takes to host the most simplest event and I used to take for granted any imperfection, or if a net wasn’t the right height, or if the lighting wasn’t perfect, he said. “It’s easy to be very critical as an athlete and once you’re in charge of events and working as an administrator, you realize how much attention to detail and really the incredible job most administrators do to have events run as smoothly as they do.”

IOC Marketing Commission Chairman Gerhard Heiberg said Ctvrtlik’s time competing at The Olympics proved valuable to the IOC.

“Bob was very important for the Olympic Movement because he mastered to see any question/problem from different sides,” Gerhard said. “He knew the IOC and our mentality from the inside and he knew the USOC and the American mentality also from the inside. With this as a background, he was very good at finding solutions acceptable to both parties.”

The Athlete’s Commission eventually became full voting IOC members. That meant Ctvrtlik automatically became a member of the USOC board.

Because of his relationships with IOC members abroad, Ctvrtlik was selected to be the USOC’s first-ever international vice president.

Ctvrtlik became a key person in the quest to bring the Olympic Games back to America through the Chicago 2016 bid. Though Ctvrtlik recalls it being an all-consuming responsibility he was passionate about, he never forgets where he started as an Olympic athlete.

Mike Plant, a USOC Board of Directors member recalled bearing witness to Ctvrtlik’s dedication during one rainy day in Beijing at the 2008 Olympic Games.

“During the Beijing Olympic Games at the Women’s gold medal beach volleyball match, we were all watching during a torrential downpour. It rained for the entire match. Came down so hard you could fill up buckets,” Plant said. “Bob and his wife never thought about getting up and leaving. 

“There he was in his dress shoes and plastic bag getting completely drenched. I remember thinking he hasn’t forgotten what this is all about even though he was consumed with the Chicago bid responsibilities.” 

Though the IOC eventually picked Rio for the 2016 games instead of Chicago, Plant said Ctvrtlik’s contribution to the bid effort was invaluable.

“Bob has a long standing passion for the Olympic movement. Add to  that his direct experience across a number of key areas in the Olympic world, most importantly, his Olympian status, he brought his passion and knowledge to bear in leading the effort for the 2016 Chicago bid both domestically and internationally.”

And though it’s obvious in his voice that it pains Ctvrtlik that Chicago was not picked by the IOC, he said he still has much to be proud of as his time as an ambassador for the Olympic Movement.

Though he is no longer a member of the IOC or USOC, he is still heavily involved in the Olympic Movement as a strategic advisor to the athlete career program at the IOC.

“During my years serving with the IOC and the USOC, I saw or heard about hundreds of athletes that were just in destitute situations,” Ctvrtlik said. “One of the failings of the Olympic Movement was that we took the best years from athletes, but we left many unprepared for the end of their careers or in the event of a major injury.”

In recent years the IOC has paired with ADECO, the largest career training company and job placement firm in the world to create a program that Ctvrtlik said he was honored to be a part of. It is a program that places athletes in jobs that still allow them train toward their dreams.

Now, Ctvrtlik also spends much of his time with wife and three sons and enjoying his successful real estate career. His time both competing in the Olympic Games and promoting the Olympic Movement will stay with him.

“My life would be completely different without the Olympics,” he said. “I met my wife through being on the U.S. Volleyball team.

“Playing sport and being an Olympian has had a profound affect on every aspect of my life, shaping the person who I am, my finances, my family, where I live, and what I’ve done for the last twenty years.”