By: Melissa S. Wollering
Part three in this three-part series will help you earn a Gold Medal in Flag Identification during Vancouver’s Opening Ceremonies Friday. On Monday, we gave you dozens of reasons to watch by telling you about all of the Olympic athletes from the Midwest. Yesterday, we helped you navigate the channels and figure out when to watch. Welcome to TSB’s Guide to the Vancouver Olympics!
In addition to giving you a small glimpse of the flags of all 82 countries participating in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, we did a little research on countries we’ve never heard of. Now when you hear and see the flags of Azerbaijan, Estonia or Kyrgyzstan you’ll know the announcers weren’t just sneezing on-air. We’ll also make sure you don’t mistake Slovakia for Slovenia or Tajikistan for Uzbekistan.
Azerbaijan first participated at the Olympic Games as an independent nation in 1994 and used to be part of the Soviet Union. If you want to refer to the people of this country, they are Azerbaijani. Azerbaijani athletes have won a total of sixteen medals at the Summer Olympic Games, in wrestling, shooting, boxing and judo. The nation has not won any medals at the Winter Olympic Games.
Bermuda is known for more than the Bermuda Triangle, but let’s face it, not much more. Why does the Flag of Bermuda look like the British are coming? Actually, it does contain a British Red Ensign with the Union Flag in the upper left corner, and the coat of arms of Bermuda in the lower right. Apparently you can’t be creative if you’re a British overseas territories. Note to self: don’t open a graphic design firm in Bermuda…
I’m told the People’s Republic of China (RPC) is not to be confused with the Republic of China (ROC) which actually competes as Chinese Taipei. Exsqueeze me? Bacon powder?
After the Chinese Civil War the ROC retreated to the island of Taiwan and only Taiwan based athletes have competed in its team since then.
Due to the dispute over the political status of China, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) did not participate in the Olympics again until the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid. That’s because the ROC they wouldn’t let the Hong Kongers compete alongside the Taiwanese and so the Hkers just boycotted the whole blasted Olympics. The feud ended in 1979 and now we’ve got two flags and two Olympic Teams. Whew…
It was part of Russia, then it was annexed by the Soviet Union, now it is independent. Since 1991, Estonia has participated in all Olympics. Estonia has won most of its medals in athletics, weightlifting, wrestling and cross-country skiing.
Jamaica’s first Winter Olympic Games in 1988 goes down in history as probably one of the most memorable introductions of tropical-climate team into the Olympics via a non-mainstream sport. The Jamaica National Bobsled Team was such a Cinderella (no pun intended) story that NBC broadcast coverage of their every run and Disney, of course, turned it into a movie.
Two Americans, George B. Fitch and William Maloney (bobsled team founder), can be credited for the team’s founding. They spotted a Jamaican pushcart derby while visiting the country and decided to recruit sprinters to build a team. The team didn’t finish in the Alberta Olympics, after losing control of the sled and crashing during one of their four runs. However, Cool Runnings featuring John Candy as the team’s coach is hands down one of the greatest sports comedies of all-time.
This time around, you’ll have to cheer for the country in other sports; the Jamaican Bobsled Team failed to qualify in 2006 and for these 2010 Olympics.
No, Borat will not be carrying the Kazakhstan flag into the Opening Ceremonies, but it is not for lack of trying. The country popularized by said movie first participated at the Olympic Games as an independent nation in 1994, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. In 1992, Kazakh athletes competed part of the Unified Team and they’ve won five medals at the Winter Olympic Games.
By the way, Kazakhstan is not to be confused with Kyrgyszstan, another former Soviet state.
Moldova is another country with roots steeped in Soviet Union history. They’ve taken home five medals at the Summer Olympic Games, in four different sports. But cheer for them this winter; the nation has not won a single medal at the Winter Olympic Games.
San Marino sounds like a posh beach next to Malibu but it’s actually a landlocked enclave in the mountains surrounded by Italy. It has competed in 12 Summer Olympics and 7 Winter Olympics. Have a glass of vino and toast to this country, which has never won a medal.
I did not make Tajikistan up. Sure, you thought I did, but that’s because it’s awesome. Actually, it has been an independent nation since 1996 and was previously a Soviet state. To this day, Andrei Drygin is the only person ever to have represented Tajikistan at the Winter Olympics, being his country’s sole competitor in both 2002 and 2006. So cheer for Andrei!!
Tajikistan does have an Olympic medal from the 2008 Summer Olympics, when Rasul Boqiev took the bronze medal in Men’s Judo – 73kg. Niiiiiiiiiice…
Uzbekistan has one lone medal in the Winter Olympics and would like to make it a pair. Another Soviet state, it gained independence in 1994 and has won 17 medals at the Summer Olympic Games, mostly in wrestling and boxing.
Check back soon because each week, we’ll recap important highlights and tell you what’s worth watching in the days ahead.Follow paulmbanks