Going for gold? Why MENA and Sochi have more in common than you thought
It might not be the Jamaican bobsled team, but the idea of “Middle Eastern” competitors at the Winter Olympics is sure an athletic oddball, at least in the years when they show up at all! Only one MENA Olympic team appeared in the 2002 winter games in Salt Lake City, in the shape of Lebanon’s snow patrol starring Chirine Njeim and Niki Fürstauer.
It would be a no-brainer to blame the low MENA quota on the weather here - a dearth of cooler climes and snow-covered slopes in much of the Middle East.
Yet despite MENA’s limited winter training ground, 20 athletes from the region have come out of the woodwork to brave snow (and sand!), sleet (and sun!) and have managed to secure spots at this winter’s edition of the Olympic Games in...you guessed it! Russia’s BEACH resort hotspot: Sochi?! The Kremlin announced the seaside city of Sochi Krasnodar Krai of Russia (a favorite vacation destination for President Vladimir Putin) as its choice hosting venue back in 2007, hoping to pump up area tourism. All artificial snow (job) aside, the plan scored gold!! Continue reading below »
But look closer -- in what seems like an ironic twist for MENA’s 2014 Olympic athletes - their journey to Sochi (the warmest-ever Winter Olympics host city) may land them closer to home than imagined. Beyond the balmy weather --MENA athletes--and you -- may be surprised to learn how much Sochians and MENA-nites actually share in terms of history, culture and politics.
So tuck into a camel-spin through these common foibles of Sochians and MENAnites - you may be a little snow or sand-shocked to see we’re not worlds apart!
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