Yes, that has been a question for the ages and that question popped to mind when I saw ‘How did Saudi Arabia make it to the Winter Olympics?’ (at https://www.dw.com/en/how-did-saudi-arabia-make-it-to-the-winter-olympics/a-60736077). Weirdly enough it is not the weirdest question and it had been asked before. There was the Jamaican bobsled team (1988), the event could also be seen in Cool Runnings. Then there was Michael David Edwards (also 1988), a British man doing Ski Jumping and coming from a place where the highest hill is a trashcan, seen in the Movie Eddie the Eagle with Hugh Jackman as the bad as coach. So there have been examples in the past. As such there is plenty of material and I do not know the man, but if Fayik Abdi comes from decently wealthy parents he could have spend his youth skiing the slopes of Canada, Switzerland, Austria or France to get his skills up. And for any man it would be an honour to represent his nation in any olympic event. I would be happy to be the Hockey Goalie for Australia. Oh shocks we do not have a Hockey team (not the real one on ice anyway). So another dream squashed. But for Fayik Abdi it was not a squashed dream, he gets to be there. It does not matter how good he is, how far he gets, he got there making him one in 34,810,000 Saudi’s. And the quote “The 24-year-old found his passion for skiing in Lebanon, where his mother taught him how to ski when he was 4. During his childhood, skiing was just a hobby. But when Abdi got older, he wanted to take the sport seriously. He started traveling to the Swiss Alps in search of slopes, as he didn’t have the access to the sport living in his country.”
Shows us the story that matters. OK, I never would have guessed Lebanon, but I got the second part right and after 20 years he is ready to represent his nation. Yet in all this, I believe that the quote “The Saudi’s first participation in the Winter Games brings back memories of the nation’s first Olympic appearance in Munich’s Summer Games in 1972. The purported vision of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is to explore new industries and encourage people in Saudi to be more active. He believes participation in Beijing will help achieve that goal” is equally important. Exploring new industries is always good, yet it does at times require nationalistic people with another brand of representation and there Olympians could set the larger stage. It does not matter if they do not get the first three position, participation is everything here and I believe that Fayik Abdi is doing more than representing his nation, he is cementing a different path that will bring honour to his family. As any person would be proud to do. If there is a side I have some issues with then it is “The Saudi Winter Sports Federation has had royal backing from the beginning. But it is still searching for business investors to build a planned indoor ski resort, which would help provide vital training access.” It is a natural setting against ‘indoor’ winter-sports, for the most the real feeling of that sport is the outdoors. It could be made for Curling, Bobsled, Figure skating and Hockey (the real one on ice). Curling and bobsled are out in the open, yet the other two would find all kinds of Islamic opposition in one case and with Hockey, there are two that might be surpassed over years, but that leaves Saudi Arabia 12th out of 12 and that is not a good place to be in, apart from the years of funds required. Making Curling with more nations and representation in men and women a much better option. Yes we see skiing, and that makes sense but how many people make that passion, that expensive passion a realistic option? Fayik Abdi should be seen as one in a million (35 million to be slightly more exact). And even if there is a larger need for its nation, it does not take away the achievement that Fayik Abdi reached, he became an Olympian. Just like Michael David Edwards and a few rare people who got into the stage against all odds. I remember how I could not make any Fencing team, no sponsor and no options, but that too is a sport Saudi Arabia could engage in, and they did. Lubna Al-Omair got into the 2016 Olympics, she might have lost, but she got saddled with Taís Rochel, a Brazilian who was number 80 on the world list, talk about bad luck. There are all kinds of sports and Saudi Arabia could be in many of them, yet my mind keeps on nagging towards the ‘planned indoor ski resort’, it does not sit well with me. You see, I have seen my share of snowboards on dunes and if Saudi Arabia has one thing more than oil, it would be dunes. So why not exploit that? Why not set up a station where snowboarders can board in near tropical heat? It will be a setting that requires a different bottom to keep the board intact, but that too is something that Saudi Arabia can ‘push’ for. And as we get a new stage of dune boards and optional new kind of tracks, we will be introduced to (optional) indoor boarding. Anyway I digress, you see, the article touches on all subjects, but no one is taking that time to consider the achievement that Fayik Abdi got. He ended #51 in the first run, defeating 38 others which is a lot better than the (roughly) 38,433 people who did not get into the Olympics in the first place. Today is run 2, he might make it, he might not, yet at present he is on the short list of becoming one of the 50 best Olympians in the Giant Slalom and for a nation that never sees solid forms of water, that is quite the achievement. You see, Canada has plenty of snow (hills too) and only one made it to that list. So I think that we should make a little more noise on the achievement we see here. Because it is one I never saw coming. But then for me Jamaica was never a bobsled nation, so there is that.
Oh, and how the cow caught the hare? With a fishing rod (of course).