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Old 02-18-2006, 07:03 PM   #1
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First Joey Cheek, now Mathieu Razanakolona

We all remember the heroic stand that U.S. Gold Medalist Joey Cheek took earlier this week regarding the humanitarian crisis in Darfur.

On a bit of a different level, now steps up another outstanding Olympic story - the story of Mathieu Razanakolona, the first Winter Olympian from Madagascar.



Here's his story ( check out the picture):

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20060217/...madagascar_col





NO SNOW BUT MADAGASCAR TAKES TO SLOPES

by Elizabeth Piper
Fri Feb 17, 12:43 PM ET



TURIN (Reuters) - There is no snow and the only skiing is on the Indian Ocean.

But a young Canadian is leading Madagascar into its first Winter Olympics in the Italian Alps.

He has only been there a handful of times -- the price of tickets from Canada are "quite expensive" -- yet 19-year-old Mathieu Razanakolona has turned his hobby into an all-but full-time job to honor the country of his father's birth.

"First we had to create the Malagasy Ski Federation which they didn't have because, of course, there is no snow in Madagascar," he told Reuters in an interview, adding he then had to travel Europe to compete and earn some points to qualify.

"I have been skiing for 15 years but only as a hobby and at weekends."

It took two years to get here, but Mathieu and his 24-year-old brother, Philippe, who runs fundraising for healthcare, education and clean water projects, are having a blast. They are celebrities in Madagascar and on the slopes.

And they got to march on to center stage at the Turin Olympics' opening ceremony -- albeit as one of the smallest contingents.

"It's incredible. I mean, our first experience was the opening ceremony which was just awesome, carrying a flag made me so much prouder," Mathieu said. "It's incredible, it's just continuing on and on every day."

He competes in the giant slalom on Monday and the slalom on Saturday, February 25.

Born in Canada, Mathieu has taken a year off school to pursue the Olympic dream, and help a country he has seen little of and which his father left for a better life.

Even he admits using Winter sports as a platform for attracting interest in a country, which located in the Indian Ocean just over 400 km (250 miles) off the eastern coast of Africa just south of the equator rarely gets cold.

"The Madagasies find it really strange, they don't have snow. They've never seen it," Mathieu said, adding he hoped his Olympic bid could draw attention to Madagascar and help boost investment and tourism.

"They are really supportive, we went this summer to make the population know what we are doing for Madagascar ... In the streets they were shaking our hands."

But this time round, Madagascar is unlikely to win its first Olympic medal. Maybe next time.

"I have no chance of getting a medal because I never trained. I never did ski to get a medal in the Olympics. It was a dream as an athlete but it was never one of my realistic goals," Mathieu said.

"Four years is a really long time but I think if I come back in the next Olympic Games I am really going to ski rather than just participate. I will be going for medals for sure."

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

I really liked this story - the story of one person's determination to see a dream come true for himself and the country of his father's birth.

Mathieu Razanakolona is already a winner!
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Old 02-18-2006, 09:28 PM   #2
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how is this related to the Joey Cheek story?
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Old 02-18-2006, 09:53 PM   #3
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he hoped his Olympic bid could draw attention to Madagascar and help boost investment and tourism
This seems to run counter to the Joey Creek story.
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Old 02-18-2006, 09:58 PM   #4
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A bit reminiscent of Eddie the Eagle.
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Old 02-19-2006, 12:15 AM   #5
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I guess no one picked up on the personal sense of courage and commitment to a cause higher than themselves that runs through these two men.

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Old 02-19-2006, 12:25 AM   #6
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Originally posted by Jamila
I guess no one picked up on the personal sense of courage and commitment to a cause higher than themselves that runs through these two men.

That's right. We are all just dumb as stumps.
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Old 02-19-2006, 12:38 AM   #7
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That's right. We are all just dumb as stumps.
I am going to stay above the fray on this

I am trying to have a positive outlook on things.

I am not responsible for how you view comments.

Can't we just love each other
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Old 02-19-2006, 12:45 AM   #8
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That's right. We are all just dumb as stumps.
it would seem so
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Old 02-19-2006, 06:18 AM   #9
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Originally posted by Dreadsox
Can't we just love each other
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Old 02-19-2006, 04:44 PM   #10
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Originally posted by nbcrusader


Actually doesn't God command us to love each other?

I bet God doesn't also like people to take potshots about His commands either.

If someone doesn't like this thread, why are they here?

Find a thread that makes you happy.

I know I don't like to be miserable.

Another feel good story coming from the Olympics on the way.
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Old 02-19-2006, 04:49 PM   #11
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And here it is (American history in the making):




Commentary: Shani Davis rises above the criticism
By Tim Dahlberg

The Associated Press

The USA's Shani Davis became the first black individual medalist in Winter Games history.

Long-track speedskater Shani Davis, pictured en route to winning the gold medal in the men's 1,000 meters Saturday night, declined to participate in the team-pursuit event earlier in the week.


TURIN, Italy — The stories coming out of the Olympic long-track speedskating oval Saturday night were about as feel-good as they get.

There was Shani Davis winning the first individual gold medal by a black athlete in Winter Olympics history by racing to victory in the men's 1,000 meters.

And there was Joey Cheek finishing just behind, then donating his $15,000 reward from the U.S. Olympic Committee to give impoverished kids a place to play.

When Bud Greenspan produces his latest Olympic film, these will be the tearjerkers, the stories that make you want to believe that the Olympics are really what the snobby elite who run them want you to believe. These are real athletes with real Olympic dreams that don't need to be manufactured by NBC.

Davis spent 17 years as an outcast in a primarily white sport, hoping the whole time that someday he would hold an Olympic gold medal. He did, and was joined on the podium by a guy whose idea of glory is being able to help kids who can't help themselves.

The Olympics don't get any better than this.

There was no reason for Chad Hedrick to try to spoil the whole party.

Hedrick, if you haven't heard, doesn't think much of Davis. Thinks even less of him now because Davis declined an invitation to skate in the team pursuit earlier this week and may have cost Hedrick — who already has one gold medal of his own — another medal by doing so.

So while Davis and Cheek were still celebrating, Hedrick was beneath the stands griping. Not about his own sixth-place finish, because the 1,000 wasn't his best race, anyway. He was griping about people who don't do everything they can to be a part of a team and help the United States win more medals.

He didn't call Davis out by name. He didn't have to.


"I'm part of Team USA," Hedrick said. "I don't care about how it's going to affect my individual race. I'm part of the team."

There's nothing wrong with being patriotic and engaging in a little flag-waving. It looks good on television and probably plays well for Hedrick back home in Texas.

But unless you're a hockey player or a curler, the Olympics aren't about winning one for Team USA. They're a series of mostly individual sports where athletes try to do their best and win one for themselves.

The fact the medals drop into the U.S. win column is just an added bonus.

Bode Miller's first thought at the top of the hill this week likely wasn't how the folks back home would love him to win, but how many more millions he might get out of Nike for doing so. Hedrick himself will do a lot better financially should he come home with multiple golds instead of the one already in his pocket for winning the 5,000.

Maybe that had something to do with Hedrick still not being able to get over Davis' perceived slight two days after the team pursuit. Or maybe he's just a rah-rah kind of guy who got in this speedskating stuff late and doesn't really understand that skaters, whether competing in sequins or speed suits, are basically only in it for themselves.

Davis said as much afterward when he talked about skating since he was 6 years old and joking with friends as a kid that he would someday win the Olympic 1,000. Those friends long ago hung up their skates, but Davis kept after it, knowing that chances for Olympic glory come around only every four years and can be fleeting indeed.

He wasn't approached until a week ago about even being in the team pursuit, and he didn't want to hurt his chances for gold in his best race by throwing off his carefully planned schedule. He didn't apologize for it because he felt he didn't need to. Still doesn't.

But when he should have been enjoying his Olympic moment, Davis had to explain how he was not somehow un-American.

"A lot of people might think I'm unpatriotic or not a team player," he said. "But if the shoe was on the other foot, would he [Hedrick] have skated the team pursuit if the team pursuit was a day before the 5,000? We will never know."

Davis was never going to win a medal for being best teammate, even before he came to Turin. He and his mother have long had disputes with U.S. Speedskating, down to refusing to allow his bio to be displayed on the group's Web site. Once in Turin, he stayed to himself, avoiding both the media and the rest of his team.

There was even talk he might blow off the official news conference if he won. Clearly, this is a guy who worries only about himself.

Athletes, though, come with different needs, different motivations and vastly different personalities.

That was never so clear as it was Saturday night when Cheek sat next to Davis at the podium. Cheek won the 500 a few days earlier and donated his $25,000 USOC reward to Right to Play, a charity run by former speedskating star Johann Olav Koss to help children in war-torn areas.

He added $15,000 more to the pot by winning the silver medal, and said his original donation has now grown to $250,000 with corporate matches.

"I'm much more proud of that work than winning a gold medal in the Olympics," Cheek said.

Davis couldn't top that, but he did have his gold. And he had some support from outside his team.

"What the U.S. thinks about Shani Davis doesn't matter," said bronze medalist Erben Wennemars of the Netherlands. "He got the Olympic gold medal, so he's right."

Hard to argue with that.

Unless you're Chad Hedrick, that is.

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company



http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/htm...yndication=rss


Congratulations to Shani Davis.


His victory shows that with perserverance and a positive attitude, you can triumph over any obstacle -
even the negativity of those who surround you.


A lesson to remember - the Good ultimately do win out.
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Old 02-19-2006, 06:45 PM   #12
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woah woah woah... shani davis has a positive attitude?

are you nuts?

look i have the utmost respect for what he accomplished, but shani davis has turned his back on his team, including his team, the US Speedskating Association, and even the man who introduced him to the damned sport when he was a kid, all in pursuit of individual accomplishment.

hardly the olympic ideal.
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Old 02-19-2006, 06:53 PM   #13
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no negative posts allowed

Just flow with the positive

Cause we are all one

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Old 02-19-2006, 07:23 PM   #14
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Originally posted by Jamila


If someone doesn't like this thread, why are they here?

Find a thread that makes you happy.

I know I don't like to be miserable.
Wow, if discussion makes you miserable, you must have it bad. FYM is not about warm fuzzies. If you can't take the fact that other people who may not agree with you or the author of your articles may be posting in your precious warm fuzzy threads, you might not want to post them here

As for Shani Davis, I admire his ability and am happy for his success, especially as an African-American, but other than that I have little respect for someone who turns his back on his teammates and his country. It would be one thing if he had never participated in the team event, but he was named to that team months ago and then DAYS before the event, backed out because he didn't feel like wasting his energy for a team event doesn't. Not only is that disresepctful to his teammates, but disrespectful to other skaters who may have qualified to skate that race in his place if he'd been honest from the beginning. Sorry Jamila, but I just don't think skin color makes that kind of behavior acceptable.
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Old 02-19-2006, 07:34 PM   #15
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Originally posted by Headache in a Suitcase
woah woah woah... shani davis has a positive attitude?

are you nuts?

look i have the utmost respect for what he accomplished, but shani davis has turned his back on his team, including his team, the US Speedskating Association, and even the man who introduced him to the damned sport when he was a kid, all in pursuit of individual accomplishment.

hardly the olympic ideal.


i'm sure someone else would've loved to march out in the opening ceremonies of the olympics...what a shitty thing to do.
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