Home / Trending News / PyeongChang 2018: The Winter Olympians who have switched nations

PyeongChang 2018: The Winter Olympians who have switched nations

The 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang will characteristic 178 athletes who are competing for a non-native nation, about 6% of the full competing in South Korea, in response to analysis by international mobility firm CapRelo.

The US has skilled the largest expertise drain, with 37 American-born athletes competing for different nations, adopted by 21 from Canada and 19 from Russia.

Hosts South Korea are the largest winners, welcoming 18 athletes from different international locations adopted by 13 to Canada and 11 to Germany.

Alpine snowboarding options probably the most non-native athletes with 32, whereas determine skating has seen 26 modifications of flag.

Twelve international locations are represented wholly by non-native athletes, eight of that are single individual groups, and three — Nigeria, Kosovo and Eritrea — are making their first look at a Winter Games because of this, in response to the analysis.

'I can motivate kids in Ghana to chase their dreams' — Akwasi Frimpong'I can motivate kids in Ghana to chase their dreams' — Akwasi Frimpong

‘I skied for myself, not for my nation’

However, the naked statistics typically conceal the nuances.

Nigerian skeleton slider Simidele Adeagbo was born in Toronto, Canada, whereas the Nigerian ladies’s bobsled workforce — the primary from Africa to make the Games — of Seun Adigun, Ngozi Onwumere and Akuoma Omeoga have been all born within the US, however at all times felt a deep-rooted affinity for Nigeria. Adigun additionally competed on the 2012 London Olympics within the 100m hurdles for Nigeria.

“Being Nigerian was always something that was definitely prominent in my childhood, as it is as much as in adulthood. That was the first culture that I’ve ever known,” Omeoga advised CNN Sport.

For some athletes, switching nations is a necessity to take care of their livelihood.

Former alpine ski racer Kilian Albrecht, who is now the agent for US star Mikaela Shiffrin, competed for his native Austria on the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City earlier than switching to Bulgaria, for whom he competed at Vancouver 2010.

Albrecht says he was frozen out by the Austrian workforce, regardless of nonetheless performing properly sufficient on snowboarding’s World Cup circuit, however he wanted to compete for a nation to be eligible to remain on the tour.

“It wasn’t about the Olympics for me,” he advised CNN Sport.

“I skied for myself, not for my country. I just wanted to continue my job as a ski racer and that wasn’t possible so that’s why I looked for an option and ended up skiing for Bulgaria.”

Albrecht says he had some detractors when he bought his Bulgarian passport in 2006 and was accused of being a traitor in some quarters, however he insists he additionally had loads of help, in addition to telephone calls from different athletes wanting to modify.

“Obviously it’s controversial — they say, ‘well, he just switched nations because he was really bad,’ which isn’t true,” says Albrecht, who nonetheless consults for Bulgaria and has been teaching the Mexican ski workforce since earlier than the Sochi Games of 2014.

“I saw it more as an individual sport and I tried to do the best for myself and the people who supported me rather than doing it for a nation.”

One of the Mexican workforce is US veteran Sarah Schleper, who has come out of retirement to race for her adopted nation after marrying Mexican Federico Gaxiola and buying citizenship in 2014. Schleper competed in 4 Winter Olympics for Team USA from 1998-2010.

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In one other twist, Minnesota sisters Hannah and Marissa Brandt will signify the US and the unified Korean workforce respectively in ice hockey in PyeongChang.

Marissa was born in South Korea and adopted by her American dad and mom as a four-month-old earlier than her dad and mom conceived Hannah naturally a 12 months later.

“I’m really looking forward to going to the opening ceremonies … but for my sister, to see her walk in in front of the South Korean fans, I think it’s going to be just an incredible experience for her,” Hannah told CNN.

For Albrecht, the anthem performed for the gold medalist is only a mark of “honor” and “celebration,” and says it would not matter to him which anthem was performed.

“Most people might not understand that maybe, personally I don’t get the whole anthem thing, the whole proud nation thing because I think we’re all on the same planet. We need to work together, there shouldn’t be any barriers,” he says.

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