By: Bong Lozada – Reporter / @BLozadaINQINQUIRER.net / 08:54 PM February 10, 2022
Philippines’ flag bearer Asa Miller leads the delegation as they enter the stadium during the opening ceremony of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games, at the National Stadium, known as the Bird’s Nest, in Beijing, on February 4, 2022. (Photo by Jewel SAMAD / AFP)
MANILA, Philippines—Snow in Southeast Asia will never be seen, but doesn’t stop athletes from the region competing in winter sports.
The Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, and Timor Leste are well represented in the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics with a total of eight athletes competing in the slopes.
Asa Miller of the Philippines and Yohan Goutt Goncalves, who is of French-East Timorese descent, are the lone representatives of their country in China and both will compete in the men’s giant slalom event.
Alpine skiers Jeffrey Webb and Aruwin Salehhudin will carry the colors of Malaysia while Zanon Nicola, Jaiman Mida Fah, Mark Chanloung, and his sister Karen Chanloung, will represent Thailand.
FILE–East Timor’s Yohan Goutt Goncalves on skies prepares for a training session at the Kolasin ski resort on December 21, 2021. (Photo by SAVO PRELEVIC / AFP)
Goncalves and Miller even made a connection during practices as they trained together ahead of their event on February 13 at Yanqing National Alpine Skiing Centre.
“We trained together and I think he [Miller] is a very good skier,” said Goncalves. “I believe he could be faster than me but let’s see on the race day.”
The 27-year-old Goncalves, who competed in the slalom event of the two previous Olympics, finished 43rd in Sochi 2014 and failed to finish in 2018.
This previous failures is what motivated him to hunt for that elusive podium finish for his country.
“We are still very far from a medal but what is important is that Timor Leste is represented here,” said Goncalves who is more than happy to show his support to other athletes from Southeast Asia.
“We really support each other, with the Malaysian skiers too. We train, we give advice to each other and stay together.”