Saturday, January 28, 2006

Can Faisal's Dream Come True?

Two more weeks until the 2006 Winter Olympics start in Turino, Italy. We hope Iraq makes it for the first time in the games' history. But the chances look very slim right now. People's Daily reports:

An Iraqi student with a dream of taking his country to the Winter Olympics for the first time spent eight years and a small fortune overcoming every obstacle but may still fall fractions of a second short.

Faisal Faisal just missed formally qualifying for the Turin Olympics on Sunday in skeleton. Heartbroken, he said fresh snow on the track had slowed his fourth and final run after three strong times in a Olympic qualifier in the German town of Koenigsee.
"I was only one spot away from qualifying and was sure I was going to move up three or four spots on the last run," Faisal said.

Faisal could still possibly get a wild-card entry for the February 10-26 Turin Games but time is running out. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 2004 granted several Iraqis special slots for the Athens Games a few months after reinstating Iraq and its sports federations.


I'm sure you want to know a bit about Faisal. Here's what he wrote on his personal web site:

My name is Faisal Faisal and my mission is to carry Iraq's flag at the opening ceremony in the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino. It will be the first time Iraq participates in the winter Olympics and by doing so I hope to unite my country in a special moment of pride when I march carrying the flag. I also hope to inspire our younger generation that is being challenged in this dark stage of our history.

If there's a person who should be qualified for the Olympics, then Faisal is the one. Call me biased. But, Faisal represents the dreams of many Iraqis who want to see themselves united in a "special moment of pride." We're desperate to have one of these moments.

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