Lebanese skiers wowed by 'outstanding' Games

China Daily | Updated: 2022-02-24 09:13
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Manon Ouaiss of Lebanon is all smiles after completing her women's slalom run during the Beijing Winter Olympics at the National Alpine Skiing Centre in Beijing's Yanqing district on Feb 9. REUTERS

BEIRUT-Lebanese skiers who took part in the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics have lavished praise on the Games, and in particular China's organizational work.

For Alpine skier Manon Ouaiss, the Beijing trip realized her long-held dream to "become part of the Olympic family".

"Being part of the Olympic family and meeting people from all around the world who share the same passion, not only for Alpine skiing but for sports in general, was a wonderful feeling," Ouaiss told Xinhua.

"It was a good opportunity to make new friends because we were all in the same village, meeting regularly for meals and training which was amazing," she added.

Ouaiss was thrilled to represent Lebanon at the Games and proud to hold the Middle East country's flag during the opening ceremony.

"I was keen to raise Lebanon's flag so high and show the world that our country may be politically and economically unstable but has a lot to offer on different levels," she said.

Ouaiss also lauded China's "outstanding and impressive" organization of the whole event, especially Beijing's capabilities in creating ski slopes with artificial snow.

Elie Tawk of Lebanon reacts after competing in the men's 15-km classic race at the National Cross-Country Skiing Centre in Zhangjiakou, Hebei province, on Feb 11. REUTERS

For his part, cross-country skier Elie Tawk was amazed by China's COVID-19 prevention measures that allowed athletes to relax during their Olympic stay.

"The measures made us feel very protected but they did not prevent us from feeling the spirit of the Olympic Games, which was an amazing achievement by China," he told Xinhua.

Tawk expressed his admiration for the attentiveness of the hardworking and welcoming staff at the Olympic Village, who were always on hand to deal with athletes' queries and problems.

"I once visited the dining hall at 3 am in the morning after my races and the whole team was there ready to welcome us and cater to our needs," he said.

For Tawk, China's meticulous organization of the whole event was particularly impressive.

"The organizing committee, for instance, was able to transport all athletes from three (athlete) villages to the opening ceremony just on time as planned, which showed a high level of professionalism," he noted.

Tawk also said his participation in the Beijing Winter Olympics has raised his morale so much that he has already started training with an eye on the 2026 Winter Games.

"I've changed my eating and sleeping habits and am very much focusing on training now, hoping to become a professional athlete at a young age," the 19-year-old skier said.

In contrast, Ouaiss is not sure if she will continue with her intensive training for the next Olympic Games as she hopes to focus on her studies.

But one thing is for sure-Ouaiss plans to visit China as a tourist after being so impressed by the country and the welcoming nature of Chinese people during her Beijing trip, she told Xinhua.

Alpine skier Cesar Arnouk competed a trio of athletes to represent Lebanon at the Games.

Arnouk achieved his country's best result in 34 years in the men's slalom by ranking 38th out of the 88-strong field on the Ice River course in Yanqing.

Ouaiss finished 46th in the women's slalom and 54th in the women's giant slalom.

Cross-country skier Tawk competed in the men's 15-km classic race and sprint free in Zhangjiakou, Hebei province, ranking 92nd and 87th respectively.


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