PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (Reuters) – Dentist Albin Tahiri has waited years to develop into Kosovo’s first Winter Olympian and now that he has made it to Pyeongchang, he isn’t doing issues by halves.
Tahiri, whose nation declared independence from Serbia a decade in the past, is the one Kosovar athlete on the Games and plans to participate in all 5 particular person Alpine snowboarding occasions earlier than going residence to select up his drill once more.
In his first outing within the males’s mixed on Tuesday, the place many better-known skiers took tumbles as they strained to select up time on the slalom leg, he was doggedly decided to make it to the underside of the course and claimed 37th place.
“It was really icy, so I had a lot of problems. But when I saw the other guys fall out, I decided just to finish it because it’s our first race and I wanted to finish my first competition at the Olympics,” he advised Reuters on the foot of the mountain.
Born in Slovenia to a Slovenian mom and a Kosovo-Albanian father, Tahiri has lengthy dreamed of representing Kosovo on the Olympics, however the nation, which lacks ultimate snowboarding situations, solely acquired International Olympic Committee recognition in 2014.
“They have mountains but the infrastructure is really bad. The chairlifts are really old, especially, the slope is not prepared all the time,” he mentioned.
For that purpose he trains principally in Austria, Italy and Slovenia, the place he lives, and has simply graduated in dentistry — a topic that appears to excite him as a lot as snowboarding.
“During these years that I’ve been waiting for Kosovo becoming Olympic family I just simply decided not to wait and to study instead — so I graduated in dentistry, which was my passion. Actually, oral surgery is my passion,” he added.
“I just graduated now, I have one more year of internship and then I‘m thinking about full mouth reconstruction with implantation and so on, something like that, a bit of oral surgery, a bit of prosthetics. Maybe I’ll fix some things from the skiers… no, I‘m just kidding.”
The downhill specialist, who turns 29 on Thursday and has Kosovar family scattered as far afield as Canada, is already turning his ideas to the 2022 Olympics in Beijing.
And he sees match between his sporting and dental pursuits: “With private practice I’ll have more money to train.”
Reporting by Mark Trevelyan; Editing by John O’Brien