By John Allen
Of 2,856 athletes competing from 88 countries at the Sochi Winter Games, seven came from six first timers: Malta, Paraguay, East Timor, Togo, Tonga, and Zimbabwe. Outside of the luger from Tonga, all except Togo’s Mathilde Petitjean—who represented France as a junior cross-country racer—compete in alpine disciplines. All have, in one way or another, dual citizenship. Luke Steyne, was born in Zimbabwe and moved to Switzerland when he was two and where he has been ever since. Malta’s Elise Pellegrin was born in France where she now studies. East Timor’s John Goutt was also born in France (French father, East Timor mother), took to skiing at two at Val d’Isère, trains in Australia during the summer and France in the winter. Julia Marino was adopted from Paraguay when she was eight months old and came through the US ‘academy’ ranks and is now at the University of Boulder. Perhaps the most curious case is that of Alessia Afi Dipol whose parents instructed at Cortina and where she started skiing at three. Her father owns a clothing factory in Togo and although she was born, lives, and trains in Italy, “now I will always stay with Togo.”
Is this what globalization of Olympism is all about?