The Sultanate of Oman has competed in every Olympics since 1984, but is still yet to win a medal. No big deal since 72 countries can say the same, but now Oman is getting serious. And like the old saying goes: if at first you don’t succeed, put all your resources into a single sport.
That sport is apparently sailing.
More than half of Oman’s border runs along the Arabian sea, so the ministry of tourism and Oman Sail have developed a youth program aimed at teaching kids teamwork, leadership, and confidence through sailing. It’s also an unabashed investment in winning the country its first Olympic medal.
“We are targeting the youth to get involved with sport because of the positive values associated with sportsmanship,” says Oman Sail manager Rashid al Kindi. “Achieving success in sport helps drive national pride and self worth. Our message to parents is let your children come sailing because it is good for them.”
The program, which includes intense clinics taught by some of the worlds best sailors, hopes to draw around 70,000 Omani kids to sailing by 2020 with the goal of winning a medal in 2024. And while the clinics will emphasize fun, safety, and general good vibes, the best kids will be identified through a strict selection process to start five person national youth teams beginning as soon as next year.
Those teams will hope to compete in the the 2014 and 2018 Youth Olympics, the ISAF Youth Sailing World Championships (which Oman has bid to host in 2016), and eventually the Olympics. Add up all the investment, time, effort, and experience and we wouldn’t be shocked to hear the Omani national anthem when the 2024 Games finally come around.
Steve Langton, who was described by driver Steven Holcomb as the “best push athlete in the world,” announced his retirement today.
A collegiate sprinter and jumper at Northeastern University, Langton decided to try bobsledding after watching the 2006 Winter Olympics. He filled out an online athlete resume, and, by the 2010 Games, he was an Olympian.
At the Sochi 2014 Games, Langton teamed with Holcomb to win a bronze medal in the two-man race. It was the first Olympic medal in the event by American sled since 1952. He claimed another bronze medal as a member of Holcomb’s four-man “Night Train.”
“In Sochi I competed on the world’s biggest stage, I won two medals for my country and I did so along not only the best teammates but best friends anyone could ever ask for,” Langton told USA Bobsled.
Langton, who has a 62-inch standing box jump and can squat more than 500 pounds, was described by Men’s Health as “the most powerful winter Olympian” in the lead-up to 2014 Games.
“[Langton’s] work ethic and discipline rubbed off on the other athletes and made everyone better,” said USA Bobsled & Skeleton Chief Executive Officer Darrin Steele. “I have no doubt that he’ll find success in the next chapter of his life as well.”
Langton appeared on “The Amazing Race” in 2015 with his girlfriend, Aly Dudek, an Olympic short track speedskater.
None of the push athletes on the current U.S. roster have Olympic experience. Holcomb will compete in the World Cup opener this Saturday with Sam McGuffie, a former University of Michigan football player. The race will be McGuffie’s World Cup debut.