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Alexander di Great!

Alpine skier looks to creating legacy after historic feats

FOLLOWING HIS historic appearance and top-50 finish at the ongoing 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing, China, Jamaica alpine skier Benjamin Alexander was just happy he was able to complete the course.

Alexander, who was captured by television microphones upon completing his first run saying “freaking hell, this is tough,” told The Gleaner the course was just that, tough.

Half the competitors failed to complete it.

As a result, Benjamin took a conservative approach to the course. He was not prepared to meet the same fate as the numerous skiers, who could not manoeuvre what has been a tricky course.

“There was no chance that I was going to compete with the best in the world, so my goal was just to finish.

“So many athletes, 41 athletes were beaten up by the course, so my goal was just to finish,” he insisted.

Alexander finished 46th out of 89 competitors with a time of 3:18:52, 31 seconds behind the 45th-place skier Arif Mohd Khan, and 69 seconds off the winner Marco Odermatt.

In hindsight, he thought he could have produced a faster time, but never saw a top-50 finish in his wildest imagination.

“My time was pretty slow but I achieved my goal and I am very proud of that and I was 46th. When I came down a journalist was asking what I thought of my time and I remarked, ‘I had no idea.’ I didn’t even look.

“I had to explain that wasn’t what it was about for me. It was about finishing,” he said. “Much later, a Portuguese friend said, ‘Hey, you finished top 50 in an Olympic alpine event, that is amazing.’ I didn’t know that was the case, so yes it was intense,” he commented.

WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS

At the moment, Alexander is contemplating qualification to the World Championships next year. However, he has other motivations, with more possibilities to help without getting on to the slopes.

His focus now is to assist young Jamaicans take the sport to greater heights, something he may be unable to do.

“The guy that finished 45th, finished 30 seconds ahead of me and he was still nearly 40 seconds off the winner and he has been racing for 15 years.

“So will I spend a million dollars and another four years of my life and finished 46th again and 35 seconds off the winner, what does that mean? Nothing.

“There is a tiny chance I go to the World Championships next year but I am not really focused on that right now.

“It’s about me helping the next generation of kids, who I have already found and who have been racing for 10 years and who, in two years’ time, will be 16 years old and can start competing at the highest level and in a few years’ time they will be in good shape to represent at the Olympics.

“There’s no room for this old man. I will be 42 at the next Olympics. There is no need to have a 42-year-old, that doesn’t make sense.

“I just came to show the world that this is possible. Now it is time for someone else to take the ball and go and score the goal and get the medals for our country,” he said.

Alexander will be in the island in a few weeks to hold discussions with the Jamaica Ski Federation (JSF) on moving the sport forward.

livingston.scott@gleanerjm.com

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