It is often considered the pinnacle of an athlete’s career to compete in the Olympics. But what about those few who pursue their dreams in the summer and winter editions of the Olympic Games?
As Beijing has become the only city in the world to host both the Summer and Winter Olympics, host country China is more than happy to see the following elites crossing borders:
Montell Douglas (Great Britain, 36, bobsleigh and 100m, 4x100m relay)
Montell Douglas will never forget the special moment she stepped back into the ‘bird’s nest’ at the Beijing 2022 Opening Ceremony on Friday night.
“It was so surreal to be back in the stadium as I competed in my first Olympics 14 years ago,” she wrote on Twitter.
Chosen to compete in the two-man bobsleigh at the Beijing Winter Olympics, Douglas, 36, became the first woman to represent Britain at the Summer and Winter Olympics.
“I’m thrilled to represent women. There have been many summer and winter male Olympians, so I’m more excited to leave a legacy like that than anything else,” she said. to local media.
The bobsleigh comes full circle. Douglas, the former British 100m record holder with 11.05 seconds, represented Great Britain in the 100m and 4x100m relay at the Beijing Olympics in 2008.
She has also participated in two World Championships, the Commonwealth Games, as well as the European Indoor and Outdoor Championships.
The former sprinter has a successful transition. She joined British Bobsleigh in 2016 and finished in the top 10 on her Bobsleigh World Cup debut in 2017. She traveled to PyeongChang, South Korea in 2018 as a reserve athlete British, and now she is participating in Beijing herself.
“You’re never too old, it’s never too late, you should always dream and dream big.” she said.
Alexandra Burghardt (Germany, 27, bobsleigh and 100m, 4x100m relay)
Alexandra Burghardt shares similar interests with Douglas.
Burghardt, a Tokyo 2020 100m semi-finalist, represents Germany in bobsleigh at Beijing 2022.
Discovering her love for athletics at a young age, Burghardt competed in the 100m hurdles at the 2011 U18 World Championships. She won gold in the 100m and 200m at the 2021 German Championships.
A dedicated sprinter, Burghardt previously refused requests to be tested as a brakeman until last year. She started her bobsleigh journey right after the 100m and 4x100m races at the Tokyo 2020 Games.
“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 areas for longer than four months – like I’m doing right now – then I think it might get a little too much.”
Before making her Winter Olympics debut, Burghardt won two silver medals in World Cup events with Mariama Jamanka in Winterberg and Altenberg.
Jaqueline Mourao (Brazil, 46 years old, cross-country skiing, biathlon & mountain biking)
Returning to Beijing where she competed in mountain biking in 2008, Jaqueline Mourao is an undeniable Olympic veteran.
Qualifying for cross-country skiing at the Beijing Winter Olympics, Mourao, 46, made history. She will be the first Brazilian athlete to participate eight times in the Olympic Games.
“I go down in history for the most Olympic appearances by a Brazilian,” said the versatile athlete. “It is a great honor to be able to carry our flag during the opening ceremony.”
Mourao, who has represented her country in mountain biking, cross-country skiing and biathlon, is also the first Brazilian woman to compete in the Summer and Winter Olympics. As a professional cyclist, she made her Olympic mountain bike debut in Athens 2004.
Born in a hot country, Mourao started skiing in 2005 after a snowstorm prevented her from continuing her cycling training in Canada, and she seized the opportunity to compete at Turin 2006. She added biathlon to its repertoire for Sochi 2014.
Although the veteran has yet to bag a medal at the Olympics, she arrived in Beijing with a newly won silver medal in the regional 5km cross-country race in Zlabtibor, Serbia.
“In 2008, I was not a very mature athlete, mentally,” Mourao said, embracing the past and acknowledging his progress. “Today – maybe because I became a mother twice and had all these other experiences – I am more focused on myself and my performance and I can better channel the energy towards what I want to do.”
Nathan Crumpton (American Samoa, 36, skeleton and 100m)
Nathan Crumpton has already made an impressive debut at the Winter Olympics in Beijing. The American Samoa flag bearer appeared shirtless in national dress with his torso glowing despite the freezing temperature, stunning the world at Friday’s opening ceremony.
Crumpton is the sole representative of American Samoa at the Beijing Winter Olympics. The last time American Samoa sent athletes to the Winter Olympics was in 1994.
Crumpton also became the first athlete to compete for American Samoa at the Summer and Winter Olympics, as he ran the 100m at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
“It’s an honor to be named to the Olympic team and it’s an honor to compete in China,” he said. “It’s going to be two Olympics in less than a year.”
He first competed in track and field in college, but then pursued his dreams in skeleton, winning American Samoa’s first gold medal in a winter sport at the 2019 North American Cup. .
It has been a long journey for Crumpton, who is also a model and photographer, to compete in the Winter Olympics, as many setbacks, financial strains and injuries have occurred along the way.
“At the end of this crazy 11-year journey in skeleton and at the end of this part of my life as an athlete, I have to thank everyone for your help,” he said.
Ayumu Hirano (Japan, 23, snowboard and skateboard)
Coming off of his Olympic home skateboarding debut at 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 lose.”
Hirano, a two-time Olympic silver medalist in snowboarding who grew up on the ramps of his father’s skatepark, 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.
Born in 1998, Hirano won a silver medal at Sochi 2014, becoming the Games’ youngest snowboarding medalist.
Hirano will be aiming for his first gold medal in halfpipe snowboarding at the Beijing Winter Olympics and will resume his rivalry with American legend Shaun White. Four years ago, White won his third Olympic gold medal in PyeongChang, beating Hirano to second place. A major threat could also come from Hirano’s compatriot, Yuto Totsuka.
Hirano has maintained excellent form this season. He won the halfpipe snowboarding crown at the Laax Open last month, claiming his first overall World Cup championship. In December 2021, he became the first person in snowboarding history to land the elusive triple cork trick in competition.
“I want to have no regrets and make sure I give it my all,” HiraNo said. “I want to give a performance that I can be happy with and express myself. I want to express myself in a way that only I can.”