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YEA for ZIMBABWE and CAMEROON at the WINTER OLYMPICS! I hope an AFRICAN NATION wins a MEDAL!

Here’s a great article on the African nations trying out for the Olympics.  (I have blogged on the desirability of Botswana to field a curling team and what it would take!)   I am especially excited about the Cameroon skier who had to start his own nation’s federation to go to the Games:

Isaac Menyoli didn’t go to Salt Lake City in 2002 with any aspirations of winning a medal in cross-country skiing. In fact, he almost didn’t go at all. In order to compete at an Olympics, an athlete has to be put forward by his national skiing federation and Cameroon didn’t have one.

So Menyoli started one up, even though he was by then living in Wisconsin and working as an architect. “It was an enormous headache,” Menyoli said, remembering the countless phone calls and faxes and requests for authorization from the government and the national Olympic committee.

Go Cameroon!  I can appreciate that effort to a small extent since I helped start curling in Richmond.  And why did Manyoli compete?  To get gobs of TV money and sponsorships?  No, it was to increase AIDS awareness in his nation and it might have helped:

The greatest victory of all for Menyoli came years later when he returned to his homeland where he saw banners and billboards promoting AIDS awareness and discovered a significant drop in the AIDS mortality rate.

“It made it all worthwhile,” he said.

And I will also root for the Zimbabwe athlete (his nation’s first Winter Olympian and a skier!) and here’s his story:

In Zimbabwe, for example, snowfall has only been recorded once, a light sprinkling back in 1960 caused by a freak storm. That however, has not stopped Zimbabwean skier Luke Steyn, 20, from qualifying for Sochi, where he will compete in the slalom and giant slalom events.

Steyn, who will be Zimbabwe’s first-ever Winter Olympian, spent the early part of the year trudging around Europe, driving more than 1,800 miles between events in order to gain the necessary points to qualify for Sochi. Even then he was nearly foiled when several meets were cancelled due to a lack of snow.

At least Steyn had the backing of the recently formed Zimbabwean snow sports council and its national sports committee to help him negotiate some of the political and bureaucratic red tape that is part of competing at the Games.

The article shows that the African nations probably will not medal.  But that is not the ultimate goal of the Games.  Yes it’s great to win and if you do your best, within the rules, and win a medal, that is fabulous!  But I think this kind of effort these African athletes have done, demonstrates what the founder of the Games hoped to see:

The famous Olympic phrase uttered by Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the founding father of the modern Games reads: “It is not the winning, but the taking part that counts.”

Alas, the Games is perverted into sports imperialism driven by ratings and corporate boodle.  It’s a shame.  Where’s my Zimbabwe flag!  I’ll especially cheer for the African nations in the Opening Ceremonies when they appear in the stadium.

Let me update this blog entry by sending it out to a fan I just met the other day:  DHA.  She’ll know who she is.  Thanks for the kind words about the blog!

BLOGGERS’ NOTE:  Cameroon is NOT at this year’s Games.  But Zimbabwe, Togo and Morocco are.

 

 

 

 

About Elwood Sanders

Elwood "Sandy" Sanders is a Hanover attorney who is an Appellate Procedure Consultant for Lantagne Legal Printing and has written ten scholarly legal articles. Sandy was also Virginia's first Appellate Defender and also helped bring curling in VA! (None of these titles imply any endorsement of Sanders’ views)

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