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JM | Jan 14, 2022

Another Winter Olympics first in the making for Jamaica

/ Our Today

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Benjamin Alexander to become the first athlete to represent the island in alpine skiing

Benjamin Alexander (Photo: Instagram @benji.ski)

Benjamin Alexander is to go into the record books as the first athlete to represent Jamaica in an alpine skiing event at the Winter Olympics.

“Qualified Olympics baby” read the message on Alexander’s Instagram account less than seven years after he was first exposed to skiing on a trip to the Canadian resort of Whistler. Alexander, who is the child of a Jamaican father and an English mother, will become only the 15th athlete ever to compete for Jamaica at a winter Olympics. The first were the bobsleigh team of 1988 who qualified, crashed out of competition, finished in last place and entered into history. The 38-year-old from Northampton, England only took up skiing in 2015 and has no full-time coach.

 Qualification to the Winter Olympics

However, he secured qualification for the Beijing Games on Wednesday when he finished seventh in the giant slalom at the Cape Verde National Ski Championships in Liechtenstein.

Alexander counts among his mentors Dudley ‘Tal’ Stokes, one of the members of Jamaica’s historic men’s bobsleigh team, whose journey from the Caribbean to the mountains of Alberta became the subject of a hit Disney film. 

Benjamin Alexander (Photo: Instagram @benji.ski)

A strategic approach and fearless technique have led the engineering graduate and former DJ not only to make sporting history but find success as a black athlete in a historically white sport.

Raised in Wellingborough, outside Northampton, Alexander had a working-class upbringing.

“My mother, my father and my brother have spent the most part of their working career either in factories or driving,” Alexander explaining, adding that “one of the three of them finished high school with any decent GCSEs or O-levels”.

Alexander said he saw those racing down the slopes that day in 2015 when he first started skiing as ‘almost like superheroes putting on these skis and just disappearing,” but he took up the sport that winter.

After falling 27 times on his first descent, Alexander recounted that he has never looked back. However, he acknowledged that, as a gifted child, he earned a scholarship to a private school before studying first physics then engineering at Imperial College.

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