Beginning February 7th, within the cold confines of Sochi, Russia., approximately 2,800 athletes representing 88 nations will compete in the XXII Olympics. If your a fan of sport and all it's essence, the physical training that most of these athletes have gone through for years, all just to get to this point, you would be foolish not to be appreciative. We as fans sometimes look at athletes and the cities they bear on their uniforms and think how awesome it would be to represent a New York, Phoenix, Boston or even Columbus for that matter. How about representing an entire nation. Not "Red Sox Nation", certainly not "Yankee Universe". These young men and women carry the torch, pardon the pun, of an entire country. Want to talk about pressure! The situations these athletes may encounter over the two plus weeks starting Friday may provide us with the very definition of the word.
There are many points of interest in Sochi worth spending time on. Here are three things that I believe are worthy of an investment of your time.
One - Lolo Jones. In her third Olympics, first of the winter variety, she is still seeking a medal of any kind. A media darling during the last two summer Olympiads, she brings a celebrity factor to the sport of bobsledding, much like Herschel Walker did in 1992. But her true Olympian status will give the female side of the sport instant credibility. Look for a sentimental build up of epic proportions by our fellow brethren. One can only wonder how any times we'll see replays of her past failures, all the while preparing us for a riches to rags to riches fairy tale ending. By all accounts, her work ethic is solid, she has added some 27 pounds to her petite 130 lb. frame, thanks to a 9,000 calorie a day diet, a dedication most world class method actors in Hollywood would envy. While having the makings of a nice success story, keep in mind this caveat. Jones , whether justified or not, has remained a polarizing figure throughout her Olympic tenure. All the attention paid to an athlete who has continually underachieved has ruffled the feathers of some fellow Olympians. She certainly has not shied away from the spotlight, and that has her tagged in some peoples eyes as self centered. Lolo has gone solo in her previous Olympic events, and in Sochi she'll be sitting in a sled with other athletes. A "team" of fellow bobsledders, if you will. If any animosity can't be put to rest, Jones may fail once again in her third, and perhaps final Olympiad.
Three Jamaican Two Man Bobsled Team I'd be rather remiss if I did not mention a story that tugs at you heart, yet, makes you chuckle a bit. The sports world's ultimate underdog, Winston Watts and Marvin Dixon needed roughly $80,000 just to make the trip after qualifying, but thanks to internet funding and worldwide interest, they raised roughly $100,000 in just a few days, how's that for a sentimental favorite.
Although Jamaica has not qualified for the winter games since Salt Lake City in 2002, Watts is appearing in this his fourth, the others being 1994 Lillehammer and 1998 Nagano to go along with 2002. Dixon is making his first appearance in this years games. Some odds makers in Las Vegas have them a 10,000 to 1 shot to take home the gold. They essentially have no shot of taking home the top prize, but isn't that part of the appeal of sports anyway.
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