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Lovable losers provide Olympic Games' magic Lovable losers provide Olympic Games' magicDaphne Bramham, Canwest News ServiceMark van ManenMany are from poor or thinly populated countries. In the Winter Games, they are sometimes from sun countries nike b huarache with no ice, no snow or no mountains countries such as Kenya, Senegal, Thailand, Jamaica and, yes, Iran. British plasterer turned ski jumper Michael Edwards) that are often more interesting than those of the superstars. But their shaky performances have raised concerns about their safety. It has made broadcasting more challenging. Medals can't be awarded until the events are finished, nike golf which drags out the live broadcast and viewers switch off. As a result, there are now tougher qualifying standards and a growing belief that the Olympics are morphing into a competition for the best in the world rather than the best from each country in the world. Recently, former Olympic alpine skier Lamine Gueye from Senegal accused the International Ski Federation of putting the knife in the backs of small, non alpine nations by making the qualification requirements so onerous that only those from richer, northern countries can make the cut. Still, more countries may be represented at the 2010 Games than in Turin in 2006. The Iranian snowboard team, for example, has already qualified. And, increasingly, countries are recruiting athletes from outside their borders athletes like Canadian snowboarder Kory Wright and American ski crosser Errol Kerr. Wright was born in Nassau to a Bahamian father and Canadian mother. He had no intention of competing for the Bahamas. But after he won a 2005 World Cup event, the Bahamian government asked him to be the Caribbean nation's first Winter Olympian. Wright, who wasn't certain of qualifying for the Canadian team, said yes. Kerr is 24th in the world in his sport, but also wasn't certain of making Team USA. Instead, he has opted to compete for his father's home country, Jamaica. At the last Winter Games in Turin, 81 countries were represented. More than 80 are expected in 2010 and Roberto Carcelen hopes that he will be the first ever competitor to represent Peru. But with the increasing pressure to have only the world's best compete, 2010 may be among the last Games where so many homegrown athletes from so many countries qualify. That would be a shame. It would deny Carcelen and others of their Olympic dreams and rob us of unexpected role models like Philip Boit. Snow is no novelty in Peru, but cross country skiing is. Carcelen, a 38 year old computer whiz, picked it up three years ago after marrying an American and moving to Seattle. His goal is to be the best cross country skier from South America. And, if he makes it to the Vancouver Games, he will be competing in one of the few remaining events that have a surfeit of athletes from unexpected countries. Philip Boit blazed that trail. His story bridges the time when there was an eagerness to help sun and surf countries compete in the snow and ice Games to now, when sporting federations and the International Olympic Committee are being accused of discriminating against underdog countries. Boit was the first Kenyan and one of the first Africans to ever to compete in the Winter Games. He was a good, but not world class, middle distance runner living on a farm in Kenya when Nike the sporting mega corporation recruited him. It sent him to Finland to train as a cross country skier for the 1998 Winter Olympics. "I couldn't even go five metres before I'd fall down," he told a television reporter last year during his eight week training session in Winthrop, Wash. In his first Olympics, Boit finished 92nd dead last in the 10 kilometre classic race. He was so far back that the medal ceremony had to be delayed. It was delayed because the winner, Bjrn Dhlie of Norway, wanted to be at the finish to congratulate Boit. It was a perfect Olympic moment, celebrating both personal achievement and sportsmanship. But after Boit finished last in the 1999 world championships, Nike dropped its sponsorship. Undeterred, Boit did "dry training" in Kenya and at the 2002 Olympics finished 64th in the sprint event ahead of three others. Five trailed him to the finish at the 2006 Winter Games. Among them were Thailand's Prawat Nagvajara, who had been inspired by Boit, and Arturo Kinch, who was Costa nike shox r4 Rica's first Winter Olympian. 2010 will be Boit's last Olympics and, he hopes, his best performance. Once again, he's training in Finland. This time, it's not because of a corporate sponsor. Instead, it's with the help of the Finnish government. The sliding sports bobsleigh, luge and skeleton have actively recruited athletes from non traditional countries. That's why there are Jamaican bobsledders using Pemberton as their pre Games home base and why Venezuelan Werner Hoeger was able to fulfill his Olympic dream more than 20 years after his hopes had been extinguished.