Jamaica's Benjamin Alexander qualifies for Alpine Skiing at Winter Olympics
Benjamin Alexander

JAMAICA will be represented in Alpine Skiing at the Winter Olympics in Beijing, China, next month for the first time after 38-year-old British born Benjamin Alexander qualified recently.

Alexander, whose father is Jamaican, will compete in the giant slalom event after finishing seventh in the discipline at the Cape Verde National Ski Championships in Liechtenstein earlier this week, claimed a report in English publication The Guardian on Thursday.

The former DJ took up the sport just six years ago, it was said, after making his name as a music selector at a number of major entertainment events.

According to the article, Alexander, who only took up the event while on holidays in Canada in 2015 when he skied in Whistler where he had been invited to DJ at a party, does not have a coach and said in an interview that he has no illusions of getting on to the podium in Beijing, but hopes “his improbable run inspires others, especially those from smaller countries and tropical climates, to chase any alpine dreams they are brave enough to nourish”.

Alexander wrote on his Instagram account: “I truly hope that my journey will lead the way for a whole new generation of athletic talent from under-represented races and nations in winter sport.”

The article said that Dudley Stokes, who piloted the Jamaican bobsled team at the 1988 Olympics, is one of Alexander's mentors and added, “Alexander recalls watching the Cool Runnings [movie that was made about the Jamaican bobsled team) and thinking it was the 'coolest thing since sliced bread'.”

He hailed Stokes, saying, “without pioneers like Stokes, Jamaica may not have competed in the Winter Olympics yet” and it would make his path to compete “incredibly difficult.”

The Guardian article quoted from an interview Alexander did with BBC Sport. “They say never meet your heroes, but Dudley is awesome.

“There are many favours that I owe to those heroic efforts of the 1998 team. I'm designing my race suit and I would love it to be a close, 21st century version, of the bobsled [kit]. [Give] credit where credit is due. The saying is we stand on the shoulders of giants and they were the giants in my story.”

BY PAUL A REID Observer writer reidp@jamaicaobserver.com

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