The crowds have gone. Athletes have packed up equipment and themselves and headed back home to their regular lives. News crews have reported their last stories. The 2010 Vancouver Olympics are over, and people are left talking about the winners, the losers, and the stories in between.
For athletes of African descent participating in the winters games, there were some triumphs and some disappointments.
Perhaps one of the biggest stories was that of Chicago native and speed skater Shani Davis. Going into the international competition, he was expected to take home medals in a variety of contests. But in Vancouver, Davis claimed a single gold in the 1000 meter race and a silver in the 1500 meters. This is exactly the way he finished during the 2006 Olympics in Turin, Italy, when he made history as the first person of African descent to win an individual medal in a Winter Olympics.
Jarome Iginla, of Canada’s gold-medal winning hockey team, is the other athlete of African descent to win a top prize in the Vancouver Olympics.
A native of Canada, the veteran National Hockey League forward helped his team defeat America, 3-2, in a game that went into overtime.
German bobsledder, Richard Adjei, competing with partner Thomas Florschuetz, , added a silver medal in the two-man event to his three-year career in the sport. He tried for a second medal in the four-man race but fell shy of the goal.
Prior to taking up the bob sleigh, Adjei played linebacker for American-style football as part of the NFL Europe and the German Football League (GFL). He played for the Rhein Fire and Berlin Thunder in the NFL and Düsseldorf Panther in the GFL.
Canadian bobsledder and former sprinter Shelley-Ann Brown also collected a silver medal in Vancouver. She won in the two-woman race along with her teammate, Helen Upperton. Brown, a sprinter who attended the University of Nebraska on a track scholarship, got involved in the sport in 2006, and holds five world-start records.
Competing with her brothers as a child made short track speed skater Kalyna Roberge a tough competitor and that early practice paid off in Vancouver with a silver medal in the ladies 3000 meter Relay.
Named the 2007 and 2008 Female Short Track Skater of the year by Speed Skating Canada, Roberge began her career on ice as a figure skater then switched to speed skating at age 8.
Canadian Lascaelles Brown took home a bronze medal in the four-man bobsled in a competition that he expects to be his final appearance as a competitor. Coming from the tradition of Jamaican bobsledding (he was on the 1999 team), Brown moved to Canada for the 2004-05. This second-place finish is his second medal win at an Olympics game–the first was in the two-man event in Turin, Italy, in 2006.
Elana Meyers’ goal as an athlete–first as a softball shortstop and pitcher, then as a bobsledder–was to win an Olympic medal. She did that in the Vancouver Olympics, taking bronze in the two-woman bobsled with partner Erin Pac.
Daughter of former Atlanta Falcon’s running back Eddie Meyers, Elana added bobsledding to her sports resume in 2007, and then made the U.S. team during her rookie season.
Rounding out the medal count at nine, German pairs figure skater Robin Szolkowy claimed a bronze competing with his partner Aliona Savchenko.
Offspring of a German nurse and Tanzanian doctor, Szolkowy began skating at age four on an ice rink he saw at an airport. At 16, he switched from singles to pairs because he saw more future in skating with a partner than alone.
Other people of African descent who participated in the Vancouver games included: Kwame Nkrumah Acheampong (Ghana-Alpine skiing); Timothy Beck (Netherlands-bobsled); Chuck Berkeley (USA-bobsled); Yannick Bonheur and Vanessa James (France-pairs figure skating); Nkeirouka Khilarievna Ezekh (Russia-curling); Errol Kerr (Jamaica-ski cross); Nicola Minichiell, (Britain-bobsled); Henry Nwume (Britain-bobsled); Johnny Oduya (Sweden-Hockey); Bill Schuffenhauer (USA-bobsled); Seck Leyti (Senegal-skiing); Neville Wright (Canada-bobsled); and Robel Teklemariam Zemichael (Ethiopia-cross country skier).