Jamaicans Love Sprinting
July 25, 2012 11:20 AM   Subscribe

Who are the great Olympic athletes competing in 2012 from lesser-known countries?

I'm curious about the great fencer from Mali, or the amazing female Egyptian pentathlete. (made those up, by the way) In the US, we get to root (and expect) to do well in every sport, but there are many countries where they are probably just focused on one or two sports, because that's what there great athlete happens to participate in.
posted by jtajta to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (6 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
You might be interested in some of the links in this great FPP from yesterday.
posted by brainmouse at 11:25 AM on July 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Virgilijus Alekna, a Lithuanian discus thrower, is famous for his unusually large wingspan. According to wikipedia, "He can make fingerprints on windows of two opposite sides of a bus simultaneously."

New Zealand's Nick Willis won a silver medal in the 1500m in 2008 and is a serious contender this year, despite a recent knee surgery.

The list of Olympic Flagbearers, the folks who carry their nation's flag in the Opening Ceremonies, probably has a lot of national sports icons (though most haven't been announced yet).
posted by troika at 11:35 AM on July 25, 2012

Saudi Arabia is sending two female athletes to the Olympics for the first time (Sarah Attar in the 800m and Wodjan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkhani in judo). I don't believe that either of them are expected to do particularly well, however.

Guor Maria is running as an independent in the marathon, although he was born in what is now South Sudan (South Sudan is too new to have an Olympic committee and he doesn't have a passport, so he can't run for them).

This page lets you search by country.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 11:37 AM on July 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Abhinav Bindra, the 2008 gold medallist and current world champion in the 10m air rifle, who became the first individual gold medallist from India since 1980, and is in London to defend his title.

More generally: South Korea's archers, Kazakhstan's weightlifters, Slovakia's slalom kayakers (including the Hochschorner twins), Hungary's water polo team. And Cuba's boxers, who have long been watched in the Olympics because they'll probably never compete professionally -- unless they defect, or the regime in Havana changes radically in the next few years.
posted by holgate at 11:43 AM on July 25, 2012

In the US, we get to root (and expect) to do well in every sport

This is not universally true. The US has not scored a medal in lifting for 30 years, for example, and has never had a top three finish in badminton, table tennis or handball. Also, traditionally Team USA does not excel at distance running and certainly I would not expect this year to be any different.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:08 PM on July 25, 2012

I'm not sure if Germany counts as a "lesser-known country," but in gymnastics they're not much of a factor, at least in the team events. In 2008 the Germans didn't qualify to the team final, nor did they qualify to most of the event finals. However, Germany won a silver medal in vault through Oksana Chusovitina, a then-33 year old world champion vaulter. She's competing for Germany again in this Olympics, at 37.

She won her first Olympic medal with the Unified (former Soviet) team in 1992. For perspective, Jordyn Wieber, the 2011 world champion, wasn't born until 1995.

(working on an FPP about her; don't y'all copy)
posted by timetoevolve at 1:39 PM on July 25, 2012 [2 favorites]

« Older How did you notify your contacts of your new...   |   Small Business 101 Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.