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China Daily Global / 2022-02 / 10 / Page004

ALL-WEATHER WONDERS: The Olympians for all seasons

China Daily Global | Updated: 2022-02-10 00:00

Meet the adaptable athletes who switched from Summer to Winter Games

Competing at the Olympics represents the peak of an athlete's career. Remarkably, some adaptable athletes get the chance to compete at both the summer and winter editions of the Games.

As the first city to host the Summer and Winter Olympics, Beijing is currently witnessing a number of elite competitors cross those sporting boundaries-some even returning to the capital having taking part in the 2008 Games.


Montell Douglas (Britain, 36, bobsleigh; 100m, 4x100m relay)

Montell Douglas will never forget the special moment when she walked back into the Bird's Nest during the Beijing 2022 opening ceremony last Friday night.

"Felt so surreal to walk back into the stadium that I raced in my first Olympics 14 years ago," she wrote on Twitter.

Selected to compete in the two-woman bobsleigh at the Beijing Winter Olympics, the 36-year-old Douglas has become the first woman to represent Britain at both Summer and Winter Olympics.

"I'm over the moon to be representing women. There have been many male summer and winter Olympians, so I'm more thrilled about leaving a legacy like that behind than anything else," she said.

Bobsleigh brings her full circle. Douglas, the former British record holder over 100m with 11.05 seconds, represented Britain in both the 100m and the 4x100m relay at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.

She also competed at two World Athletics Championships, the Commonwealth Games, as well as the European indoor and outdoor athletics championships.

Douglas joined British Bobsleigh in 2016, and produced a top-10 finish in her Bobsleigh World Cup debut in 2017. She traveled to the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics as a reserve athlete, but in Beijing she will actually compete for the first time at the Winter Games.

"You're never too old, it's never too late, you should always dream and dream big," she said.


Alexandra Burghardt (Germany, 27, bobsleigh; 100m, 4x100m relay)

Alexandra Burghardt shares a similar career path with Douglas.

Burghardt, a semifinalist at Tokyo 2020 in the women's 100m, is representing Germany in bobsleigh at Beijing 2022.

Discovering her love for athletics at a young age, Burghardt competed in the 100m hurdles at the 2011 World Under-18 Athletics Championships. She won gold in both 100m and 200m at the 2021 German championships.

Burghardt had previously turned down requests to try out as a brakewoman until last year. She began her bobsleigh journey just after Tokyo 2020, where she ran in the 100m and 4x100m events.

"Sometimes I feel like a double agent!" she said. "It's quite stressful and if you want to compete at a high level in both things for more than just four monthslike I am doing right now-then I think it might get a little bit too much."

Burghardt showed she is not just along for the ride in bobsleigh, winning silver medals along with her pilot, Mariama Jamankaat, at World Cup meets in Winterberg and Altenberg, both in Germany.


Jaqueline Mourao (Brazil, 46, cross-country skiing, biathlon; mountain biking)

Returning to Beijing where she competed in mountain biking in 2008, Jaqueline Mourao is a true Olympic stalwart.

Qualifying for cross-country skiing at Beijing 2022, the 46-year-old created history as the first Brazilian athlete to compete at the Olympic Games eight times.

"I am making history for the most Olympic appearances by a Brazilian," she said. "It's a great honor to be able to carry our flag at the opening ceremony."

Mourao is also the first Brazilian woman to compete at both Summer and Winter Olympics. As a professional cyclist, she made her Olympic debut in mountain biking at Athens 2004. She began skiing in 2005 after a snowstorm prevented her from continuing her cycling training in Canada. The following year she competed in cross-country skiing at the 2006 Turin Winter Games, and at Sochi 2014 added the biathlon to her repertoire.

Although the veteran has yet to pocket a medal at the Olympics, she arrived in Beijing fresh from winning a silver at a 5-km cross-country ski race in Zlatibor, Serbia.

"In 2008, I wasn't a very mature athlete, mentally," Mourao said of her development through the years.

"Today-perhaps because I've become a mother twice and had all these other experiences-I'm more focused on myself and my performance and can better channel the energy at what I want to do."


Nathan Crumpton (American Samoa, 36, skeleton; 100m)

Nathan Crumpton has already made an impressive Winter Olympics debut in Beijing. The American Samoa flagbearer appeared shirtless in native costume with his torso gleaming despite the freezing temperatures in the capital during last Friday's opening ceremony at the Bird's Nest.

Crumpton is the sole representative of American Samoa at the Beijing Winter Olympics. The last time the territory sent athletes to the Winter Games was in 1994.

Crumpton has also become the first athlete to compete for American Samoa in both the Summer and the Winter Olympics after going in the 100m at Tokyo 2020.

"It's an honor to be named to the Olympic team and it's an honor to compete in China," he said. "This is going to be two Olympic Games in less than one year."

He originally competed in track and field in college, but then decided to chase his dreams in skeleton, winning American Samoa's first gold medal in a winter sport at the 2019 North American Cup.

He is also a model and photographer, but despite his glittering resume, making it to Beijing 2022 has been a bumpy ride for Crumpton, who has overcome injury setbacks and financial constraints en route to the Games.

"At the end of this crazy 11-year skeleton journey and the conclusion of this part of my athletic life, I have to say thank you to everyone for your help," he said.


Ayumu Hirano (Japan, 23, snowboard; skateboarding)

After his Olympic skateboarding debut on home soil in Tokyo 2020, Ayumu Hirano continued to challenge himself. "I'm going to switch to snowboarding soon," he said. "There is not a single day to waste."

Hirano, who grew up riding on his father's own skatepark ramps, announced in November 2018 that he would try to qualify and compete at Tokyo 2020 in skateboarding. He won the Japanese national skateboarding championships in May 2019.

Hirano is a two-time Olympic snowboard silver medalist, finishing runner-up in the halfpipe at Sochi 2014-becoming the Games' youngest ever snowboarding medalist in the process-and again at Pyeongchang 2018.

At Beijing 2022, Hirano resumes his rivalry with American legend Shaun White. Four years ago in South Korea, White pipped Hirano to claim his third Olympic gold. On Wednesday, both men made it safely through to Friday's Beijing 2022 halfpipe final.

Hirano has been in superb form this season. He won the snowboard halfpipe crown at the Laax Open last month, claiming his first overall World Cup championship in the process. In December 2021, he became the first rider in the sport's history to land the elusive triple cork trick in competition.

"I want to have no regrets and make sure I give it everything I've got," Hirano said of his Beijing 2022 campaign. "I want to give a performance I can be happy with and express myself. I want to express myself in a way that only I can."


Japanese snowboarder Ayumu Hirano takes part in the halfpipe. He was a skateboarder at the Tokyo Games. REUTERS



Beijing 2022 skeleton rider Nathan Crumpton also competed at Tokyo 2020, in the 100m sprint. REUTERS



Brazil's Jaqueline Mourao goes in the women's skiathlon. She competed in mountain biking at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. REUTERS



Alexandra Burghardt of Germany (rear of sled) races in bobsleigh. She and bobsleigh teammate Montell Douglas both competed on the athletics track at Summer Olympics as sprinter. AP



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