By Jon D. Gaede
Voice News Sports
PyeongChang – For the 6,500 Olympic athletes, years of training and qualifying are over. For the host city, the venues have been built and the mountainside transformed. For the Korean people, their athletes will compete as one, under a unified flag.
The idea of becoming an Olympic athlete, remains a fantasy for most of us. It’s hard to imagine the years of development, refinement and persistence it takes to become one of the world’s very best. For those who qualified, that reality is now. These are the 24th Winter Olympic Games.
South Korea earned the right to host the family of nations. Separated from its neighbor for seven decades and sharing a border at the DMZ, which lies just 60 miles north from the competition in PyeongChang. In a resent unprecedented move, the International Olympic Committee will allow 22 North Korean athletes to join the South Korean team under one unified flag. As the world looks in, the development is both unique and compelling. Although the backdrop of nuclear tension remains, the parade of athletes entered the stadium together, perhaps the two nations can embrace the hope and promise of pure athletic competition.
The Olympic family has also grown by five new nations. They include: Nigeria, Ecuador, Malaysia, Kosovo, and the island nation of Eritea.
Look for five-time Olympic speed skater Shani Davis to compete for likely his last time. Davis, the Chicago native, has earned multiple world championships and the Olympic gold medal, during his illustrious career. Also look for two African American women who will compete in Olympic short track speed skating for the first time. Maame Binney (age 18) one year younger than Shani Davis who broke through at age 19.
Asia Evans, bronze medalist from Sochi games, will once again compete in women’s bobsled. Unfortunately, her teammate, LoLo Jones did not make the final cut last week. Jamaica will also field a women’s bobsled team for the first time.