East Timor makes debut in Winter Youth Olympics
LILLEHAMMER, Norway – East Timor made its debut in the Winter Youth Olympic Games (YOG) on Saturday, February 13, with one young athlete competing in Alpine Skiing.
Alexi Gonclaves Goutt, the Southeast Asian country’s lone representative to the Lillehammer games, is the first Timorese to compete in the youth event.
“It’s pretty great to be the first one doing it. But I’m just hoping it’s gonna bring more people of my country to come, do these sports, participate and win medals. I just want to encourage the people of my country to pursue not only business, but also sports,” he said.
Goutt is competing in 4 events – Slalom, Giant Slalom, Super-G, and Alpine Combined. Goutt has been training in France to prepare for the games.
Around 1,100 athletes from 71 countries will compete for medals in 7 sports events and 15 disciplines in Lillehammer, which hosted the 1994 Winter Olympics. The YOG is using some of the venues built and used in 1994. (WATCH: VLOG: Lillehammer Winter Olympics kicks off)
Competing in winter sports runs in his family. His father, a French national, taught and encouraged him to pursue skiing. His mother, Carolina De Mascarenhas, who is East Timor’s chef de mission to Lillehammer 2016, has been supporting him all the way.
His brother, Yohan Goncalves Goutt, was the country’s first winter Olympian during the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games.
“My mom is here to help me and push me to show the world that our country exists too. We’re here even if we’re very small,” he added.
According to Mascarenhas, there are many challenges to pursuing winter sports.
“First of all, in our country, there’s no such word for ski. We call them snow skates. In our language, it doesn’t exist so that’s the first one. Then we are so far away so we need to be in Europe to train or somewhere in South America when it is European summer. Apart from that, it’s funding. We struggle for funding and sponsorship,” she said.
Still, Mascarenhas is hopeful her sons’ participation in the YOG will encourage more Timorese to pursue winter sports.
“It is not always simple but we are hoping to promote. We have a lot of Timorese people who live abroad so we are hoping that, even if they are second or third generation, those kids are going to represent our country. We have Timorese living in Canada, the US, in colder climates so we hope those people will be encouraged to take sports seriously, be disciplined, and participate,” Mascarenhas said.
Goutt has been training hard for his events in Lillehammer 2016. He said he has done all the work.
“It’s a lot of training – skiing and physical training. In the morning, we go training with my coach. Then we have quick lunch and two hours rest. And then we have two to three hours of physical training.
Lillehammer 2016, however, is just a stepping stone for Goutt to achieve his dream of influencing more Timorese youth to pursue sports.
“My plan would be to open a sports center, totally free, because 70% of our population is under 30 years old and 50% is under 25. There are so many young people who do nothing and just stay at home and survive. So I want to bring them to sports and show them their potential.”
“I wanna make everybody know where my country is. I want people to remember that that is the country where this skier is and not just remember that it was a country that went through a civil war,” he concluded. - Rappler.com
This story was first published on the Youth Information Service.