Firstly I must sincerely
apologise to all the regular readers of my column. For the past few weeks
I have been entirely absorbed in preparing the first ever representation
for Nepal at the Winter Olympic Games in America. It has been far more
difficult than I ever imagined and my duties as the Nepal Ski Team manager
and coach have dominated my time.
I am writing from
the Olympic Village in Salt Lake City where 3,500 athletes and officials
from 80 nations have gathered to celebrate these games. It is an amazing
experience to live alongside the greatest figures in winter sports and
a unique privilege to write from inside the camp. But I cannot divulge
all the drama that happens here for that would betray the trust of all
those I meet. At Salt Lake City I must first be a fellow sportsman to
all the wonderful athletes competing here and my journalism must respect
this important Olympic principle.
Nonetheless there is much to write about. Whatever personal opinion we
may have about American government and foreign policy, there can be no
doubt that the American people are wonderful hosts. Certainly this is
true here in Utah State. I have personally experienced overwhelming kindness
from all the local people I have met. The streets are lined with hundreds
of cheering people as we make our way to the competitions. Thousands of
volunteers have given their time entirely free of charge to assist every
team. And they have done so with great kindness and humanity.
Last Friday a student was sent to escort the Nepal team to the Opening
Ceremony that was to take place about a mile from the accommodation village.
Having only just returned from training 85 kilometres away in the most
terrible weather conditions, we were rushed for time. And just before
reaching the Stadium I discovered that I had forgotten to take a camera
film with me. Of course I was nearly heartbroken. After working for four
years to get our athlete Jay Khadka into the Olympics the thought of having
no personal photographs to remember the occasion was terrible.
But our young host immediately gave me his only spare film. And when my
camera battery suddenly died a few seconds after loading it he made an
even greater sacrifice. Without a moment's thought he gave me the battery
from his own camera and thereby lost any chance of recording his own memories.
I was overcome with gratitude. This young man displayed the greatest model
of humanity. He showed us all that ordinary people cannot be held responsible
for the attitude of their governments. And he revealed how the true spirit
of the Olympics can blossom even outside the sporting world.
Jay Khadka cannot win his races at these games. In fact he will be lucky
not to finish last. All his training over the past four seasons has been
directed at Įlpine'skiing where the athletes use heavy stiff skis to plunge
down steep slopes at great speed. He achieved tremendous results and won
several good races. But last season was a disaster for him. He broke his
arm in January preparing for a top-level race and badly damaged a knee
ligament within days of returning into training. After spending several
months recovering we knew that it was impossible for him to qualify for
these Games in that type of skiing. Only athletes in the top 500 skiers
of the World may fully qualify and Jay was forced to find an easier route.
Three months ago he began to train in an entirely different type of skiing
known as 'Cross Country'. In this discipline athletes use much lighter
equipment but must ski up hill as well as down. It requires no expensive
lift equipment and might easily be introduced into Nepal without great
investment. Jay was very keen to show the potential of this sport and
so he trained extremely hard in order to qualify for these games. He achieved
that within 6 weeks of starting the sport. I think it was an immense achievement
and we should only hope for his safe completion of his events and perhaps
a personal best points score. He will race in the 10km event on the 14th.
February and the Sprint on the 19th.
In the time that we have been preparing for these Olympics I see that
much has happened in Nepal. Hundreds more of our citizens have been killed
in the terrible civil war and there seems no end to the crisis. The nation
is rapidly becoming bankrupt with security costs rising every day. Attitudes
about the monarchy are changing and the crown no longer enjoys the same
hallowed position established under His Late Majesty King Birendra. And
the weather has changed as well. Considerable snowfalls have taken place
across Nepal and the whole pattern of seasonal precipitation seems to
I shall write more on these subjects when these games are over. But for
the moment I should like to share a personal memory that has inspired
Jay and I to reach these Olympic Games. The late King Birendra heard that
I had been a ski racer in my youth and he knew that his sons also enjoyed
the sport. Accordingly he strongly supported our efforts to create a national
team and gave Jay and I his personal encouragement to succeed. At this
wonderful moment of completing the long road to reach the Winter Olympic
Games, we would both like to dedicate this achievement to the memory of
His Later Majesty. I rather think he is looking from the heavens with
a happy smile on face.
Further information on the Nepal Winter
Olympic bid may be found at www.chezjayski.com/Olympics.
my best wishes to you all,