Benjamin Alexander is set to become the first ever Jamaican alpine skier to compete at a Winter Olympics after qualifying for Beijing 2022.
The 38-year-old, born in Northamptonshire, started skiing seven years ago but has now fulfilled an improbable dream.
Counting compatriot Dudley Stokes - whose efforts to qualify for the 1988 Olympics as the pilot of the Jamaican bobsleigh quartet were immortalised in the film Cool Runnings - among his mentors, Alexander will become the 15th Jamaican to compete at a Winter Games.
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"The International Olympic Committee believes the Games would be better if there were as many nations represented as possible," Alexander told Eurosport last year of his attempt to qualify for Beijing. "They allow every nation to put forward one female and one male athlete in every discipline at B criteria.
"If you go onto the International Ski Federation website, you will see that I am the best Jamaican skier out there. That doesn't say much. If you look at the rankings, I believe I’m in 3748th place in the world for giant slalom - and I’m pretty damn close to where I need to be.
"Am I better than the average skier in terms of my ability to control a race ski on an icy surface? Hell yeah, way better. Am I better than a superstar Austrian kid who’s been skiing since he was two and racing since he was seven but now he’s 14? No, that 14 year old is probably much better than I am."
Having graduated with a degree in engineering, Alexander had a brief career in finance before becoming a successful DJ.
He had never previously skied before his job took him to a party in Whistler in 2015, and having attended the 2018 Winter Olympics as a fan began to think about an attempt at qualifying for Beijing.
Benjamin Alexander is attemting to become Jamaica's first Olympic alpine skier
Image credit: Other Agency
He has no full-time coach but secured qualification at the inaugural Cape Verde National Ski Championships in Liechtenstein on Wednesday.
Estimating that the qualification process would cost him in excess of £72,000, Alexander hopes his story can inspire others.
"It’s probably going to feel like a dream," Alexander said in October of last year about the prospect of qualifying.
"To actually then be in the start gate, or in the Opening Ceremony, it’s probably not going to feel real."
"If I’m able to start a sport at 32 and get to an Olympics at 38, then there is no excuse for anyone - whether they’re 40, 50, 60, to not go out and get some lessons and get some enjoyment out of skiing. It’s not too late."
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