Family Stories from the Winter Olympics
Athanasios and Panagiota are part of the 7-person Greek Olympic team. The pair will be competing in the biathlon category. Though they are not in the running for medals, they made history as the first father and daughter duo to compete together in the same Winter Olympics This is the 5th Olympics for 45-year Athanasios and the 2nd for his 19-year old daughter Panagiota. For these two, the road to Vancouver hasn’t been easy. Greece, for geographical and climatic reasons, is not exactly a winter sports country, thus winter athletes do not really get the financial support they need. For Panagiota, going to the Olympics is a lonely road full of sacrifices. And the greatest sacrifice according to her is giving up the time usually spent with family and friends. However, she is lucky to have her father around all the time, as co-athlete and as coach. For Athanasios, making this comeback at a ripe age isn’t easy but couldn’t just forego the chance of competing with his daughter. For their efforts, the father-daughter duo made it to the Guinness Book of World Records.
Just a year ago, nobody would have thought that the Crawford sisters will ever make it to Whistler in 2010. 26-year old Chandra, who won a gold medal in cross-country skiing at the 2006 Olympics in Turin, had ankle problems last year. Her younger sister, 21-year biathlete Rosanna had a heart procedure. But with determination and their constant support for each other, the girls made it to be part of the Canadian Olympic team. During her gold-winning race in Turin, Chandra was wearing their grandma’s ring as talisman. This year she is even willing to give up her lucky charm to her sister. Luckily, this won’t be necessary because they will be racing on different days. One thing for sure, each one will be cheering on the other during the competition.
The next story is a bit closer to home in more ways than one. The Schmid brothers Tommy and Jan are competing in the Nordic combined. It is not the first time that brothers compete in the same category. What is unusual in this case is that Jan is part of the Norwegian team whereas Tommy is part of the Swiss team. The brothers were born in Norway to Swiss parents and probably had dual citizenship. Both used to compete for Switzerland but Jan recently switched to the Norwegian side. Unlike the Crawford sisters, the Schmid brothers are very competitive and would take pleasure in beating each other in any race. As the article in the official Olympic site said “[their mom would] have to wave two flags – one Swiss, the other Norwegian” during the completion.
I can imagine myself to be in the same position in the future. My 6-and-a-half year old twin sons were born in Germany and by nationality, like their father, are Germans. In a couple of years however, they will be eligible for citizenship in our current country of residence, Switzerland. Already now, when watching the Olympics, I can feel their divided loyalties when it’s Germany competing against Switzerland. They, too, are very competitive and love to outdo each other in everything. Should their dream of becoming competitive athletes (winter or summer games, they can’t decide yet) ever come true, then I too, might be waving 2 flags.