Thursday, February 4, 2010

Citius, Altius, Fortius...

I have been assured the 2010 Vancouver Olympics are coming. I'm not entirely sure when they will invade NBC, but judging by the repeated (and curious) Michael Phelps Subway commercials the attack is imminent.

In anticipation, or failing that preparation, I've come up with three stories connected to the upcoming Olympics. Remember the Jamaican bobsled team? The one that inspired the Disney movie "Cool Runnings"? Well, this year's unlikely hero may just be Kwame Nkrumah-Acheampong. He is Ghana's entire Winter Olympic team. According to Yahoo! Sports, Nkrumah-Acheampong will compete for the small African nation in alpine skiing events. He is the first Ghananian in the Winter Olympics and only picked up skiing six years ago after taking a job at a ski resort in England (of all places).

The New York Times highlighted an American bobsledder who will be competing in the Games despite some incredibly long odds. Steve Holcomb succeeded in driving a bobsled at speeds over 90 mph regardless of the fact his vision factored in at 20/500 due to a degenerative disease called keratoconus. But two years ago, when his vision reached its nadir, Holcomb feared he'd have to retire. His coach, Brian Shimer, connected him with a surgeon who was able to correct Holcomb's vision back to 20/20. Now he is back, ready to compete and take aim at the German favorites for the gold medal.

Dorothy Hamill earned the nickname "America's Sweetheart" after winning a gold medal in figure skating at the 1976 Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria (and started a fad with that hair...). She turned professional shortly after her triumph, and remains active in skating to this day, despite a bout with breast cancer. has a video from the Today Show that highlights Hamill's latest venture - I-Skate. The program helps children with cerebral palsy, brain damage or paralysis receive therapy through ice skating. It's a short video, so I really hope you watch it. The grins on these children's faces throughout the feature cannot fail to make you smile.

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