Against the odds

Will we see two Afghan men competing in the Winter Olympics next year?

Afghan skiers Alisha Farhang (L) and Sajjad Husaini pose for a picture at the 2017 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in St. Moritz AFP PHOTO / FABRICE COFFRINI
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Almost 30 years after the Jamaican bobsleigh team competed in the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary as one of the most unlikely teams in Olympic history, we might be seeing another surprise team take the stage. Two Afghan men, Sajjad Husaini, 25, and Sayed Ali Shah Farhang, 26, are training in the Swiss Alps in the hope of becoming the first individuals from the war-torn country to compete in the Winter Olympics, which will be held in South Korea in 2018.

The two young men started training with short skis that tourists had left behind. They would borrow them and trek up the Bamiyan mountains to teach themselves to ski. They won three national contests and qualified for the Alpine skiing world championships last month, after competing against skiers from more than 70 countries. Their story demonstrates that we should leave our preconceptions aside when it comes to sport. Individuals can excel at any sport, regardless of the climate that they hail from.