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Canadian-born Jamaican sets sight on 2014 Russian Winter Olympics

• ‘Dream Chaser’ inspired by Bobsled team, Cool Runnings movie

BY EILEEN FERGUSON Observer writer ferguson.munich@yahoo.com

Thursday, December 06, 2012    

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THE historic performance by a Jamaican Bobsled team at the Calgary Winter Olympics in 1988, and the subsequent movie, Cool Runnings based on that audacious act, stirred a dream in Canadian-born Jamaica, Michael Williams.

One day, the Toronto resident thought to himself, I too would like to represent Jamaica in the discipline of Skiing.

Williams, who grew up in the Ontario city with his Jamaican mother and grandmother, said he spent all his childhood summers with extended family in Kingston, Jamaica, and had always admired the adaptability of the Jamaican people. It is exactly this adaptability, he added, that made him think that it is possible to qualify for and participate in the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics at which time he will be in his mid-40s.

Approximately 20 ski runs later, Williams, who set his feet on skis for the first time just over a year ago — aided and abetted by his coaches — is confident that with his athleticism, motivation and a whole lot of hard work, the Sochi Winter Olympics in Russia in 2014 could become a reality.

Williams, who recently started training for this 2012 winter sports season, took a decisive step by qualifying in Davos, Switzerland, a fortnight ago to represent Jamaica on the world stage in the discipline of Giant Slalom Ski at the Ski World Championships slated to take place in Schladming, Austria, in February 2013.

These exploits have made Williams, known as 'Dream Chaser', one of the biggest attractions these days in Germany.

"Through regular participation in ski competitions up to 2014, I hope to achieve the 140-point standing required by the International Ski Federation (FIS) for my qualification for the Sochi Winter Olympics," Williams told the Jamaica Observer. "I very confident that I can and will do it."

Williams, a resident in Frankfurt, Germany, since 2006, played and coached professional American Football during an earlier stint in Germany between 1996 and 2001. He is no stranger to winter sports, admitting that, unlike his Jamaican Bobsled compatriots, he grew up playing winter sports including ice hockey in his native Canada.

He named one of the people he admires as US-born Errol Kerr, who represented Jamaica in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics and placed 9th overall in ski cross, thereby recording the best placement ever for a Caribbean country. He also draws motivation from the "Snow Leopard", Kwame Nkrumah-Acheampong, the one-man Ghanaian team at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, and the Swiss Alpine Ski great, Pirmin Zurbriggen.

With the backing of the Jamaica Ski Federation, Williams was able to secure sponsorship, allowing him and his coaches to spend the coming months during this winter sports season at the training facilities in Schladming, Austria and to dedicate their entire efforts to his training.

After the snow has melted in Europe at the end of April 2013, his plans are —with the help of his sponsors — to continue his training for the Sochi Winter Olympics on the slopes in South America or New Zealand. His major sponsors include Schladming-Dachstein, Intersport, Ziener, and Map to Snow. He also receives sponsorship in the form of necessary gears and equipment from Alpina, Leki and Voelkl.

Michael Williams is an avid supporter of Right to Play, an international foundation whose mission it is to use sport and play to educate and empower children and youth to overcome the effects of poverty, conflict, and disease in disadvantaged communities. according to his website www.jamaicandreamchaser.com.

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