Wednesday, February 22, 2006

A lion in winter

Robel Teklemariam has lived in the United States for more than two decades, long enough to have fielded two lifetimes' worth of questions about his native Ethiopia.

Those questions have followed him to Italy, where he is the entire Ethiopian team at the Winter Olympics: the coach, vice chairman of the Ethiopian National Ski Federation, equipment manager and support staff.

...He finished 84th in the 15-kilometer race on Friday, and he'll try to improve his finish when he competes in the sprint today.

Although Teklemariam isn't even close to being considered a medal favorite, he has accomplished his goal of representing his country and dispelling some myths.

..."For me, it's not just about Ethiopia," he says. "I don't think it should be a sport for only one group of people. It's such a beautiful sport, I want everybody to enjoy it. Skiing is such a great sport. You have to share it. For me, when people ask me about the Olympics, it's good because they ask about Ethiopia.

Ethiopia's lone Olympian, once scared to sleep in the dark, offers a profile in courage (Houston Chronicle) February 22, 2006