Saudi Alpine Skier makes history as first Saudi to take part in Winter Olympics
Saudi Arabia’s Fayik Abdi concluded his historic participation in the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics. The Saudi alpine Skier became the first Saudi to participate in the Winter Olympics since its inception nearly 100 years ago in 1924 in the French city of Chamonix.
At the start of the competitions, Abdi told reporters: “I’m super proud to represent Saudi Arabia in the Winter Olympics and I hope this opens the door for people in Saudi and people in the gulf to try winter sports and to take part in the Winter Olympics one day.”
Abdi finished his historic participation in the Winter Olympics, by finishing 45th with a time of 1.25.41 in the second and final round of competitions, according to what was stated by the official account of the Saudi Olympic Committee on the social networking site Twitter.
He finished number 45 among 89 participants, concluding his historic participation in the Winter Olympics, and in the presence of the Saudi Deputy Minister of Sports, Prince Fahad bin Jalawi, who supported Abdi throughout the competitions.
For his part, Chen Weiqing, Chinese Ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and China’s representative to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, commented on Abdi’s participation, saying in an encouraging message: “Best luck to Olympic champion Fayik Abdi.”
He added, “It is enough honor for you, hero, that this historic participation will open the door to the participation of Saudi and Arab athletes in the Winter Olympics in the future.”
It is noteworthy that Abdi had succeeded in writing the history of Saudi and Gulf sports, by qualifying for the Winter Olympics last December, by achieving an average of 131.03 points during the best 5 races in which he participated in a record period.
Abdi praised China’s success in organizing the global event.
He expressed his admiration for the organizational steps taken by China to ensure the success of the event, especially the smooth organization of competitions without the need to postpone the dates of organizing the Winter Olympics.
“The way the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) was handled in Beijing was really impressive,” said Abedi, in an interview with Xinhua, adding that the organizers “were very strict from our arrival until we left, and it’s all for our own good.”
And he continued, “In fact, being able to hold the event on time and not postpone anything is a sign of how well they handled (Covid-19).”
He stressed that China’s success in hosting the Winter Olympics will enhance the sport not only in China but in all of Asia.
He expressed his hope that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and China will be partners in the field of sports to help promote all sports, and that those interested in skiing in the two countries will cooperate in the development of this sport.
He pointed out that China has the largest indoor ski center in the world, hoping that Saudi Arabia will soon have the second largest center in the world, so that the two countries will be able to promote winter sports.
On the future of winter sports, Abdi said: “I believe that winter sports will continue to grow in Asia and the Kingdom.”
Regarding the Kingdom’s first participation in the Winter Olympics, he said: “I hope that Saudi Arabia’s participation in the Winter Olympics will open doors for people not only in the Kingdom, but in the Gulf and Asia to discover their capabilities, including by being part of these sports.”
The Saudi athlete described his relationship with skiing, saying: “I love skiing, it’s my passion… I work hard and keep training to get the results I want to achieve.”
Expressing the hope that his passion for skiing will inspire people in the Kingdom to join the sport, he said, “When I finish competing as a player, I hope I can continue to promote skiing and make the Kingdom a hub for skiers.”
Aside from competing, Abdi enjoyed getting to know people during the Winter Olympics. “I met very interesting people and people I consider friends now. So, I hope to see them at the next Olympics and train, race and also have fun between now and then,” he said.
Abdi also enjoyed his stay in Beijing, describing it as “challenging”. He attributed the reason to the good organization of the event. “I think everything has been well thought out, making it easier for the athletes to move around and feel comfortable,” he said.
Abdi enjoyed the food during his stay at the Athletes Village. “We did not face any challenges in finding the food we liked or needed, and many options were provided to us,” he said.
Only five Arab Olympic committees qualified for the Winter Olympics nearly a hundred years ago, namely Lebanon, Morocco, Algeria, Egypt and the Kingdom.
Abdi learned snowboarding from his mother, grew up with a love of sports and developed his skills to become a professional.