The skier you won’t be seeing on the slopes at Sochi: Sive Speelman
Speelman would have been South Africa’s first black contender in the Winter Games.
This is a heartwarming Olympic story that could have been.
Slalom skier Sive Speelman trained for years with the dream of reaching the Olympics — a peculiar pursuit for a boy from South Africa’s rural, impoverished Eastern Cape. Against all odds, and with a lot of hard work, he earned a spot at Sochi — and would have been his country’s first-ever black contender for the Winter Games.
But instead of standing among the athletes streaming into Sochi’s Fisht Olympic Stadium Friday night, where he would have been the lone South African, Speelman was back in his remote hometown, a broken young man.
“He’s feeling pretty bleak, to put it bluntly,” said Speelman’s coach, Alex Heath. “He can’t understand what he’s done wrong. He feels he’s been robbed.”
It was Speelman’s own countrymen who decided that he would not be attending.
Speelman, 18, narrowly missed qualifying for the Olympics under the International Ski Federations’ points system, but was still awarded a place at Sochi by the International Olympic Committee because he had achieved a secondary qualification standard.
Despite the IOC’s approval, South Africa’s Olympic governing body opted to send no one rather than to send Speelman. By way of explanation, the group released a statement saying that it was following strict selection criteria to ensure the country’s participation at international events is “of the highest quality.”
*Look out for this young man - he will reach his dreams. Keep your eye on the prize brother.