Winter Olympics 2010 :: Lone Olympic Athletes
Two Men from the Carribbean Compete in 2010 Winter Olympics
Dare to Dream
I was inspired today by several things. One was a Hub by Patty Inglish MS about the winter Olympics in Vancouver.
Two was the indigenous peoples all over the world, now gaining a representation, as the Four Host First Nations are partners in hosting the games. Partial quote by Tewanee Joseph: " for the first time indigenous peoples have been recognized as full partners, it's never happened before in the history of the games." It is about time.
Third was the number of "Lone Athletes" representing their countries in these 2010 Olympics Winter Games.
So, before I continue, I ask you: Have you ever had a dream, one that no one else shared? Apparently, these Lone Athletes share a dream. Representing their countries in the Winter Games.
I love the winter games. I guess it's like getting Christmas, New Years and The Fourth of July rolled into one (Valentines Day and Chinese New Year as well this time around).
So as I watch these Olympic Games on Comcast On-Demand, I was amazed to see how many times a country was represented by a single Athlete. What odds it must represent to be the only athlete from your country competing against all of these other Nations for Olympic Gold. I was forced to check this out.
- Albania, Alpine Skier:Erjon Tola
- Algeria, Cross Country Skiing:Mehdi-Selim Khelifi (Algeria's third time to winter games)
- Bermuda, competing in the Olympics since 1936, (one bronze medal ever in Summer Olympics) sixth trip to winter games, Cross country Skiing: Tucker Murphy
- Cayman Islands, Alpine Skier:Dow Travers
- Columbia Alpine Skiing Cynthia Denzler
- Ethiopia (Established the first Ethiopian Ski Federation by himself) Cross country Skiing: Robel Teklemariam (participated in Torino games, finished 87th) to his surprise he was met here by an Ethiopian Federation upon his arrival, as a National Hero.
- Ghana , Alpine Skiing: Kwame Nkruhma-Acheampong Ghana's first winter Olympian.
- Hong Kong, (one of the most densely populated places on earth, 16,000 people per square mile), Short Track: Han Yueshaung
- Jamaica, Freestyle Skiing: Errol Kerr ( Jamaican Bobsled team did not qualify this year) First time a Jamaican has competed in a Winter games event other than bobsledding.
- Mexico Alpine Skiing Hubertus Von Hohenlohe 51 oldest athelete competing, Has competed in four winter Olympic games from '84 to '94
- Montenegro, Alpine Skiing, Bojan Kosic
- Morocco, Alpine Skiing: Samir Azzimani
- Pakistan ( competing in Winter Olympics for the first time), Alpine Skiing: Muhammad Abbas
- Portugal, Cross-Country Skiing: Danny Silva
- Senegal, Alpine Skiing : Leyti Seck
- Chinese Taipei (Commonly known as Taiwan) Luge: Ma Chih-Hung (Carrying a special flag agreed upon by IOC and China.)
- Tajikistan, Alpine Skiing: Alisher Kudratov ( did not actually qualify for games but was sent here for experience)
Seventeen Lone Athletes representing seventeen countries out of the 82 represented at the 2010 Winter Olympics Games.
On YouTube you will find a video about the sole competitors from Bermuda and The Cayman Islands, but in the Top Picks section of Comcast On-Demand, you can select 2010 Winter Olympics, then Best of the Day, and Part 2 of the opening ceremonies to see the parade of Athletes. Some countries are represented by over 200, in contrast to those nations represented by one or two (South Africa and Mongolia are among those with only two athletes).
For these people the First Host Four Nations representatives dance for the entire parade (Nearly an hour) and beyond that as the entertainment begins in Part 3.
Ethiopian Contender Tells Why a medal is not his Goal
Support and Sports
Now it is commonly known that in most sports, the home team has an advantage. There are more spectators cheering for the home team than the visitors team, and in many sports booing the visitor is not only common, but expected. That is what makes the Olympics different.
Out of the 82 countries represented here, 38 have never won a medal in the Winter Olympics. That is less than half, and more than half of these are represented by only one or two competitors.
Talk about feeling alone in a crowd. At what odds then are they competing? When there are 216 Olympic hopefuls from the USA and 206 from Canada not to mention the other countries whose teams actually make it to the triple digits, there are many countries who have less than ten.
It makes you wonder what one man can do for his country when a man of Ethiopian descent starts the First Ethiopian Ski Federation by himself. Or when the Israeli team is represented by 3 athletes. Israel's only full size ice rink is called The Canada Center and is primarily funded by donations from Canada's Jewish Community. Or when a group of Jamaicans forms a bobsled team.
Jamaican Bobsled Team, Calgary
Don't Give up on Your Dreams
I wish I could interview all of the athletes I have mentioned in the above list of "lone rangers" of their respective cultures. I have chosen these video clips from YouTube to give you a taste of their dreams, as well as the dangers of competition. Somehow danger goes against every fiber of this survivor's being.
There has already been one death, that of first time Luge competitor Nador Kumaritashvili, from Russia's Georgia during a practice run before the games even began, casting a pall over the whole proceedings. Many athletes wore black arm bands, not only those from Russia whose team got a standing ovation, in the parade.
Among the lone athletes on my list is a Luge competitor from Chinese Taipei: Ma Chih-Hung. Needless to say there is no video of him on YouTube yet. He finished 28th in the 2006 Winter Olympics, and is 24.
Having watched these videos myself I think they would all say the same thing. Don't give up your dreams, and don't forget where you came from. Culture is not a difference to be fought over, but to be embraced and shared. Let us enjoy these Winter Olympic Games, rooting for all of our favorites, regardless of what country they are from, for the heroes that they are. They have pursued their dreams against some amazing odds. And they're not even there for the medals, although they probably wouldn't turn one down.