Sometimes when watching the Olympics you look at the screen and say, “Who’s that? Germany vs who?” You can’t figure out the three-letter abbreviation and the tiny flag is unrecognizable. Here are some you may or may not have realized were competing in PyeongChang this year:
Eritrea — A nation in northeast Africa, it’s about the size of Newfoundland (not incl Labrador) and has a population of almost 5 million. Their name is derived from the Red Sea, they separated themselves from Ethiopia in 1958, and the temperature stays within 17-26 degrees celsius all year round. They have one olympian this time around: a male alpine skier.
So, how does an African become an Alpine skier? Well, his parents had fled Eritrea in the 80’s when there was political unrest there and moved to Alberta where their son, Shannon-Ogbani Abeda, was born. Right here in Canada he learned how to ski and would go on to represent his homeland in South Korea as we speak.
Tonga — Actually, you have heard of Tonga, because their flag bearer for the 2016 Olympiad got everyone’s attention. He was ripped, handsome, and oily. Yes, NOW you remember. They had 7 athletes then, and Pita Taufatofua was one of them: the Taekwondo competitor covered in coconut oil. Well, this time around he’s the only one competing, only this time as a cross-country skier. All the best to you Pita!
Chinese Taipei — So we already know that Hong Kong is kinda-sorta a country. They are a part of China who has given them a tremendous amount of autonomy. Anyone from there (incl. the one living in my house) does not like to be identified with China. Now we might assume Chinese Taipei is simply Taiwan, since its capital city is Taipei. However, from what I’ve read, it represents a more broad term known as The Republic of China, which exists within China (The People’s Republic of China). So China recognizes them as a separate country in the Olympics only, and they take on a flag and anthem completely void of any meaning connected to China. They have one male luge athlete, two male speed skaters and one female speed skater.
Togo — Just a tad larger than Nova Scotia with a population closer to Quebec’s, it sits in the northwest end of Africa, about 4 blocks over from Sierra Leone. They have 1 female athlete in the category of cross-country skiing: Mathilde-Amivi Petitjean. She moved to France with her family when she was 4, took interest in skiing at 7, and came to excel in the sport as a teenager. Her home country actually called her and asked her to compete. She said, “I don’t know how they found me and at first I thought it was a joke. I spoke about it with my parents… As far as I was concerned, the time had come for me to do something for Togo.”
Korea — We all know Korea and saw the athletes from both North and South all march in together, hand-in-hand, during the opening ceremonies. And they have 35 athletes competing together under one unified flag; however, that represents only one sport: women’s ice hockey. 23 of them are from South Korea, 12 of them from North Korea. All of the other athletes are competing for either North (10 athletes) or South (122 athletes).
And you’ll be glad to know that after 30 years Jamaica still has a bobsleigh team!
Congratulations Cool Runnings. Not only is this your 25th anniversary, this is also your week.
And the Oscar goes to…
Best Actress: Patricia Clarkson as Patti Brooks in Miracle.
Best Actor: Kurt Russell as Herb Brooks in Miracle. It’s actually one of my favourite performances.
Best Quote: Derice Bannock: “Sanka, you dead?” Sanka Coffie: “Ya mon.” — Cool Runnings.
This year’s Olympic mascot is Soohorang. He represents a white tiger (though he has teddy bear ears) and his name is a combination of Sooho, meaning protection, and Rang, which has two meanings. Rang is short for tiger in Korean and is also part of the title of a favourite/famous folk song of the region where the games are being played. So, Soohorang is to be the protector of the athletes, spectators, and other participants in the Olympics. As for me though, I think I’d rather call on Kung Fu Panda than this guy. Does he look like he could protect much?