Sometimes, nations enter the Olympics in areas where they simply don’t excel. Other times, even the coaches pose a threat to progress, as was the case this year with the Jamaican bobsledding team. This year, two skaters have had wardrobe mishaps and one performer was gliding along with half of her top fully exposed. When one adds North Korea into the mix, to say the least, this has been an odd year for the Winter Olympics.
A lot of people wondered how a team from Jamacia, with no snow, would even have the interest in bobsledding sparked, to begin with. The same questions are being asked of German Madrazo, a “cross-country skier from Mexico” who PJ Media reminds us is “not exactly a hotbed of Winter Olympic activity.” Sometimes, hours of training don’t pay off, as he saw when he came in “dead last in the 15-kilometer men’s individual race.” Like many others, he was just happy to finish before “the lights were turned off.”
We have seen Olympians running who were so exhausted that their body shook, yet they carried on, and it made for a great display of heart and spirit if nothing else.
Mexican cross-country skier German Madrazo crossed the finish line last, but he was all smiles as he did it proudly carrying his nation's flag. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/8qILNmFjyE
— NBC Olympics (@NBCOlympics) February 16, 2018
The 43-year-old man who took up the sport only last year grabbed the Mexican flag (adding a few more seconds to his time) and proudly carried it over the finish line. The smile on his face was large and open as a Mexican desert landscape.
Likewise, “Maame Biney was born in Ghana” but since she has lived in the U.S. since she was but five, she competes in speed skating as an American. There are a number of athletes who are competing for nations of which they were not born, such as Ted-Jan Bloemen who has dual citizenship in the Netherlands and Canada.
He chose to skate for Canada.
We are also reminded of Pita Taufatofua, “the shirtless Tongan flag bearer both in Rio and in the frozen opening ceremonies in Pyeongchang.” He is “an Australian native of Tongan descent” and has competed in both the Summer and Winter Olympics.
In Rio, the Judo practitioner who lost 19-1, is known to have taken up cross-country skiing about 12-weeks before the games! He called learning to ski on roller skis “the worst thing possible.”
Taufatofua entered the 15-kilometer men’s individual race with two goals. One, he aimed to “finish before they turn the lights off.” Secondly, and he set the bar quite high for himself here, he did not want to “hit a tree.”
He placed 114, one spot better than the proud Mexican referred to above!
Elizabeth Swaney is a native of Oakland, California but skied in the half-pipe (kind of) for Hungary. Her grandparents are natives of Hungary and everything was in place for her to compete except for one fact…Swaney can hardly ski!
Those broadcasters “did their best” to speak about her as an actual athlete, even though it was clear that she was not going anywhere near a podium. Swaney achieved about 2 inches of air on each of turns, something that most beginners can do. She was disappointed that the did not make the cut and told Reuter, “I worked really for several years to achieve this.”
This may be true, but she did so dreadfully bad that Hungary is now looking to change the rules as to who can perform.
“We, the Hungarian Olympic Committee, have to learn the lessons from this case, and we must consider rethinking our nomination procedures. We shall be doing this, with the assistance of the appropriate experts, in the near future,” said a spokesman for the nation.
While Olympic viewership falls faster than ever before (a sign that we as a world are less caring about each other and about the talents of our own citizens), it is quite refreshing to see some people giving it all that they have just to show a bit of pride in themselves and love for their country.
While that is wonderful, perhaps there is a better forum for it. The Olympics are supposed to be the best of the best competing and it takes something away from athletes who have worked all their lives to have to share the spotlight with people who can barely perform. Other countries should follow Hungary’s lead here and consider who they are sending to represent them.