Pyeongchang, South Korea: With the opening ceremony still a day away, the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics began today with a mixed doubles curling competition – which is making its Olympic debut. The opening curling competition is featuring a showdown between a pair of US siblings and a Russian husband-and-wife team competing in neutral uniforms with no national insignia.
Among the athletes are 168 Russians who are being forced to compete under the neutral banner of “Olympic Athletes from Russia” as punishment for doping in Sochi in 2014. Others who were barred altogether have filed appeals to the Court of Arbitration for Sport and are still hoping to be allowed to participate.China’s Wang Rui watches teammate Ba Dexin throw a stone during the mixed doubles curling on Thursday morning.
The first event is mixed doubles curling. The more familiar single-gender version of curling will begin later in the games.
There were four games played simultaneously on Thursday.
The 2018 Winter Olympics, the 23rd winter Olympiad, will be held Pyeongchang, South Korea, between 9-25 February 2018. It will be the first Winter Olympics held in South Korea and the first Asian city outside of Japan to host the games.
PyeongChang is about 125 kilometers easterly of Korea’s collateral Seoul and about 100 kilomoeters south of a Demilitarized Zone separating North and South Korea.
The 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang will have 102 events in 15 sports, making it the first Winter Games to transcend 100 award events.
The sporting events for the 2018 Winter Olympics are: Alpine Skiing, Biathlon, Bobsleigh, Cross-Country Skiing, Curling, Figure Skating, Freestyle Skiing, Ice Hockey, Luge, Nordic Combined, Short Track Speed, Skeleton, Ski Jumping, Snowboard and Speed Skating.
Newest additions as sports or events are: big atmosphere snowboarding, churned group alpine skiing, mass start speed skating and churned doubles curling.
North Korea also staged a military parade in Pyongyang, a day before the opening ceremony for the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.
EARLIER: Nigeria’s Simi Adeagbo Is Africa’s 1st Female Skeleton Athlete At Winter Olympics – Lake Placid, New York : Nigeria will be represented in the women’s Skeleton event at PyeongChang 2018 after Simidele Adeagbo qualified for the Winter Olympics, having finished 3rd in her fifth and final qualifying race held on January 11, in Lake Placid, New York.
That means Nigeria will be represented in two events, the women’s Bobsled (Which qualified earlier) and the women’s Skeleton event.
Adeagbo, 36, a former Triple Jumper and record holder for the University of Kentucky, had already completed four qualifying races: two in Calgary, Canada, and then two more at Park City, Utah.
After qualifying for PyeongChang2018, an excited Adeagbo shared the good news on her social media handle on Instagram, part of which reads: “Hello Pyeongchang! I successfully completed my 5th qualifying race with a 3rd place finish! I’m looking forward to representing @bsfnigeria & becoming the first female African Skeleton athlete to compete in the Winter Olympics. Dreams do come true!”
Canadian born Adeagbo’s journey to PyeongChang 2018 only began in August 2017 when she traveled all the way to Houston, Texas, from her base in Johannesburg, South Africa, to participate in the first ever Nigerian Bobsled and Skeleton Federation tryouts. She was successful and was then invited for a team camp in Canada. Even more outstanding is the fact that she only touched a skeleton sled for the first time in September 2017.
She said: “I want to be an example and inspire others by showing them what’s possible. I want to change the conversation and the narrative on African women and believe it’s time for the world to see strong, smart, vivacious, courageous, beautiful and ambitious African women unapologetically blazing a trail in sports.”
Adeagbo will be joining the Bobsled trio of Seun Adigun, Ngozi Onwumere and Akuoma Omeoga, who also made history by becoming the first athletes from the continent to qualify for the Winter Olympics in the sport.
All three bobsledders were once track and field athletes before switching to winter sports, with Adigun competing in the 100m hurdles at the London 2012 Olympics. Adigun will pilot the Nigerian sled in South Korea with either Onwumere or Omeoga to be selected as brakewoman.
Other black athletes in Pyeongchang will include:
Erin Jackson, the first African-American to win an individual gold medal at the Winter Olympics, marking his fifth straight appearance at the Winter Games; hockey player Jordan Greenway, the first African-American to play for Team USA ;
Speedskater Ghanaian native Maame Biney, 17, who in December became the first black woman to qualify for a U.S. speedskating team; and Erin Jackson the second black woman to qualify for the U.S. Olympic Long-Track Speed Skating team.
Team USA also has 2014 Olympic bronze medalist, Noe Aja Evans, who has her sights set on winning gold in bobsledding.
Former University of Virginia at Wise football ( running back position) star, Hakeem Abdul-Saboor is a member of both the two man and the four man USA Bobsled National Team at the winter Olympics.
The USA Olympic women’s Bobsled team also has brakewomen Lauren Gibbs (with Elana Meyers Taylor) , Aja Evans (with Greubel Poser) and Briauna Jones. Lauren Gibbs and Aja Evans will be push athletes. Briauna Jones will go to Pyeongchang as team alternate and could be called upon if either Gibbs or Evans is injured.
Elana Meyers Taylor was a push athlete for Erin Pac at Vancouver 2010 and took bronze. She transitioned to driving a bobsled after that and won silver at the Sochi Olympic event, one tenth of a second behind Canadian Kaillie Humphries, her training partner and the 2010 Olympic champion.
Jamaica will also have a women’s bobsleigh team at next month’s Winter Olympics, 30 years after first historic appearance of the men’s team. They will be led in Pyeongchang by 32-year-old Jazmine Fenlator, who competed for USA as a push-athlete at Sochi 2014. American-born Fenlator switched to join her father’s native Jamaica in 2015.
27-year-old Brakewoman Carrie Russell, who won a gold medal in the 4x100m relay at the World Athletics Championships in 2013, will make her first Winter Olympic appearance in South Korea.
Fenlator and Russell will be joined in the team by brakewoman Audra Segree, who also competed on the track as a sprinter.
Akwasi Frimpong, who will turn 32 during the Games, has been confirmed as Ghana’s first Olympic skeleton athlete. Frimpong, was born in Ghana before moving to the Netherlands aged eight. Frimpong who won the Dutch 200m junior title in 2003 switched to winter sports after missing out on the London Olympics through injury.
Africa was first represented at the Winter Olympics at Sarajevo 1984 by Senegalese alpine skier Lamine Gueye.
At Sochi 2014, Togo and Zimbabwe were the only nations from the continent to send athletes to the Winter Olympics.
The Winter Olympics is set to kick off in Pyeongchang County, South Korea from February 9, 2018 to February 23.