26/11/2011 World Olympic Dreams


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Welcome to World Olympic Dreams, the series that follows 26 athletes


from all across the globe, in their preparations for the London


Olympics. This is Lord's and The Long Room, the home of cricket. It


is through these doors that players walk on their way to bat. Cricket


has been played here since 1814 but, this week, Old Father Time is


looking down on the world's best archers as they compete in the


London Archery Classic. It is an official test event for London 2012,


giving around 100 of the world's top archers the perfect chance to


acclimatise to conditions here in Central London. And hopefully I'll


be able to have a go myself. Also coming up in this edition of World


Majlinda Kelmendi, a judo fighter, whose Olympics aspirations are


threatened by political wrangling From the war-ravaged banks of


Baghdad's River Tigris to the idyllic calm of the Lake Bled in


Slovenia, Iraqi rower Haider Rashid tells me about this journey to


London 2012. I will do my best to qualify because I need to.


discover why archer Im Dong-Hyun isn't guaranteed to make the South


Korean team. And it is not because Newly-crowned World triathlon


champion Alistair Brownlee shows us his punishing training regime.


is what you to do every day but, when you add it up at the end of


the week, you are like ,whoa, that's a lot of hours. And finally,


is time running out for Namibia's Olympics hopeful Merlin Diamond?


Now I'm more worried about getting back on track again because, if I'm


back on track again, then I can see my goal, I can see where I'm


There will be more than 10,000 athletes competing at the London


Olympics, some will break records, some will win medals, and some will


just make up the numbers but all of them will be wearing their


country's colours with pride. But what if your country can't compete?


For one athlete from Kosovo, that is the question which dominates


every day of her training as she prepares to take part in the


biggest event that her sport can Majlinda Kelmendi's demure exterior


A former junior world champion judo fighter, Majlinda now wants to win


an Olympic medal for her country. Unfortunately, Kosovo probably


won't field a team at London 2012. David Eades has been to meet her at


her training base in the north-west of Kosovo, near the border with


The landscape of the Rugova Mountains is idyllic. The recent


history in this corner of Kosovo anything but. Yet emerging from the


breathtaking valleys and a painful past is a local talent as ruthless


as she is ambitious. And with one target in mind. Former world junior


champion in judo, meet Majlinda Kelmendi. It is a wonderful feeling


to compete for Kosovo because I am the only who is having the chance


to prove to the world that Kosovo has got talents too. Because what


Kosovo is best known for is not pretty. Majlinda's town of Peje was


burnt out during the conflict with Serbia. Families were forced to


flee to neighbouring countries. Today feels so different. This


could be anywhere in Europe but there is a grey reality behind the


sunshine. Without international status, prospects in Kosovo are


pretty grim. Majlinda's old teacher fears that lack of recognition


could deprive her star pupil of her big chance. That is disappointing,


really disappointing. We are a part of Europe and no one can stop us to


achieve our goal and to go where we want. We are a part of Europe, they


can't just ignore us. Back in the gym the build up to 2012 goes on


regardless. Majlinda has had big money offers from other counties


like Azerbaijan to compete under their flag, but she would soon hold


on and hope. -- countries. Majlinda knows she represents the hopes of a


country, but there is more to it than that. She also stands for the


wasted opportunities of a former generation. Her coach, the task


master, could have been exactly where she is now but the outbreak


of war - the break up of Yugoslavia - meant he had to abandon his


Olympic dreams and fight for his country. If she gains the medal,


half of that medal will be my medal and that will be the biggest thing


in my life. But it is a struggle. Majlinda makes her part of the


bargain look easy. Winning the rights to fly the Kosovo flag in


London 2012 remains a much tougher South Korea is one of the dominant


forces in world archery. They won team gold in Beijing in 2008, which


in itself is extraordinary, but one of their team members is legally


blind. When Im Dong-Hyun looks at the target 70 metres away, all he


Im's condition does not concern him but what he does fear is the next


generation of Korean archers quivering with anticipation at the


chance to compete at London 2012. Lucy Williamson met up with the


The Olympics are glamorous, preparing for them isn't. The only


tune athletes really want to hear blaring across a stadium is their


national anthem but for Korea's national squad, the day begins


instead with high-decibel pop music and an aerobics coach who seems to


be moving twice as fast as everyone else. Im Dong-Hyun has a better


excuse than most for not keeping up with the moves. He probably cannot


see her very well. Dong-Hyun's eyesight is so bad he needs to be


ten times closer than normal to see things clearly but it is not his


eye sight nor his lack of enthusiasm for aerobics that is


holding him back this year. His training has been disrupted by


shoulder problems and surgery, is threatening his place on the


Olympic squad. It takes a lot of strength to handle a bow and arrow


skilfully and Dong-Hyun has just a few months left to make up the time


It has given me fame and money. It is everything I've got. It is like


a father and mother to me. Korea's blind archer is not fully blind but


he is too short-sighted to see the target clearly. Not that it stops


him hitting it. Dong-Hyun has already won team gold medals in the


Beijing and Athens Olympics. London might be his chance at an


individual gold but first he has got to get there. It is raining


pretty hard here today but everyone has turned up for practice and that


is because the coach here is about to make his selection for the


Olympic squad and everyone is keen to show they are prepared mentally


Harder than it might sound, the coach here measures competitions


not by how many medals his team wins, but by how many they give


away to athletes from other counties. -- countries. Past


performance is not a consideration he says. Even if they have got gold


medals in previous Olympics, they will not make the selection this


time unless they do well in local tournaments. Even someone as good


as Im Dong-Hyun, he says, only has a 50/50 chance of making it on to


the squad. The archer was asked recently about what he knew about


London. Two things he said. It is always raining and it is a country


of gentlemen. And perhaps, if luck goes his way, also the country of


his own personal Olympic gold medal. Back at the archery test event, Im


Dong-Hyun is getting the ideal preparation for next year. He has


already broken his own world record by scoring 693 points out of a


possible 720 in the qualification round. I caught up with him to see


what he makes of the experience. So, Im, how do you assess Lord's as a


venue for archery? It is an honour for me to compete at this historic


place. It is my first time competing at such a huge stadium.


You must be delighted with breaking your world record yesterday. You


must be going really well? I am very happy with the world record.


It is very good preparation for the Olympic Games next year. How have


you enjoyed your time in London? This is my first time in London and


I expected it to be a bit chilly Great Britain won 19 gold medals in


Beijing 2008 and many of those winners went on to become household


names - Chris Hoy and Rebecca Adlington - to name just two. But


one person who is training for London 2012, who wants to add his


name to the list, is 23-year-old Since we joined him on a training


camp in Lanzarote last winter, Alistair has won his second world


title and he will be hot favourite for Olympic glory, if he is not


beaten by his biggest rival - his Kieran Fox caught up with them in


the Swiss Alps during their How far had he walked? Nobody knows.


Where had he come from? Nobody knows. How was he made? Nobody


knows. Taller than a house, the Iron Man stood at the top of the


cliff, on the very brink, in the In triathlon, some of the tallest


mountains that must be climbed are Here, in the heart of the Swiss


Alps, Yorkshire's Man of Iron, Alistair Brownlee, is doing just


Training is relentless, testing, For mere men of flesh these hours,


these days and months seem We probably average 30 hours a week


over 50 weeks of the year, for probably the last five to six years,


I think. It does not seem too bad at times because it is what you do


every day but when you add it up over the week we are like, whoa,


that is quite a lot of hours. It is We came here two years ago. We did


a session and it was sleeting in July! So it is not as bad as that


but still it is not a lot of fun. And then the air is thin as well so


it is really hard to breathe. Alistair has dominated the World


Series but half way through the season he needs a lift. You have to


divide the season up, and look for the races where you really want to


be in the best form. And if you do not train, a good block of training


in the middle of the season, then you won't be in form for the later


races. And it pays off. A month later Alistair Brownlee surges


across the line to claim his second world title. It definitely hit me a


lot more the second time round, I think the first time round I was


quite young and it all happened so quickly. One race after the next,


after the next, a bit like a whirlwind. The second time round it


was harder, more of an achievement in a way. It happened a lot more


slowly although it hit me a lot after London because the build up


to London was the main thing. It was a real, real special day and to


be double World Champion. Not many people can say that. But who is


this, snapping at his heels? His rival, his closet ally, his younger


brother, Jonny. Jonny was fantastic, to get one. Two in the world was


amazing. Our parents are proud, I suppose. I don't know how else to


describe it. We are racing against each other all the time, but it has


not changed anything. We are going to the races, doing exactly the


same thing as before. If anything, it is nicer having him there,


because I know if I am nervous at the start line I can always talk to


Unknown to most Britons despite his world champion credentials,


Alistair is accruing sponsors and media attention. He knows winning


gold in London next summer, will turn back page success into front


His steely mentality is focused on the immediate goal - he is not


getting carried away. If I wanted to get anything out of this year,


it was to qualify and I've done that, so it's really nice to go


into the winter now knowing I can just get my head down, not worry


about anything else and train for that one day in August. For all his


success, an Olympic medal is not won until it's hanging around his


The paradise island of Mauritius isn't the first place you think of


when you think of Olympic athletes and their training, but actually


there's a centre there that's full of Olympic hopefuls from


unprivileged backgrounds. It's been set up and supported by the


International Olympic Committee's Olympic Solidarity programme. And


one of them is a young women we call the "cheetah of Namibia"- her


Last year she showed me the stadium in Windhoek, where she was training


at the time, and earlier this year she flew to the UK for the first


time to see the stadium in Glasgow, that will host the Namibians before


they head to London for the However, training in Mauritius has


been more trouble in paradise then fun in the sun for Merlin - as


I have really big hopes. I want to be the first Namibian ever to bring


a gold medal home. Big dreams have a momentum of their own when the


skies are blue and when the sun shines. But Merlin Diamond is far


from home and family, and training in paradise has not been perfect.


Merlin is on an internationally- sponsored training programme and in


Mauritius until 2012, but the centre's facilities are rudimentary.


She has had a setback with a hamstring injury. Despite the


injury, there is still a daily training schedule, one which is


overshadowed by the feeling that time is not on her side. 2012 is


not next year, it's just around the corner. It's putting a lot of


pressure on me. Now I'm more worried about getting back on track


again, because if I'm back on track again I can see my goal, I can see


where I'm heading. The life of an athlete can be fraught with ups and


downs. For Merlin Diamond not only is she thousands of miles away from


home, but she has an injury to contend with, which forces her to


sit on the bench when all she wants to do is run. Watching what she


can't do, Merlin cuts a forlorn figure, and it's a far cry from the


heady days when her dreams were forged in the face of tragedy.


Merlin has been sponsored by a white Namibian couple whose own two


athlete daughters died in a car crash. From humble beginnings,


she's been given the chance to Alongside the hope of Olympic


success is the weight of a loneliness carried by this teenage


sprinter. I've been here for at least three months, getting to miss


home, people back home, do all my crying and then get out there as if


She only has a year and Merlin Diamond must hope that the


tranquillity of being on this island will give her the resolve


And I just looking straight down the arrow? Back at Lords, British


archer Alison Williamson shows me how it's done. It is so easy, your


sport! In 1981, Alison won a silver medal at the Wenlock Olympian Games.


Wenlock, of course, is the modern birthplace of the Olympics Games.


Can we have a proper instructor? Fast forward to 2011 and now she's


hoping to make it to the London Games - her sixth Olympics. And


another Briton eyeing London 2012 with relish is the basketball star


Luol Deng. He's the lynchpin in one of the NBA's most famous franchises,


the Chicago Bulls. But what is less well known about the big man is, he


started life on his career to super stardom as a refugee fleeing from a


Last year we joined him as he returned to Sudan for the first


visit back home. I want to give back in some way, and I felt like


England has everything, the only way I could give back is through


Every one of you guys is capable of being somebody special, maybe


you'll be the president of this country, and one day you're going


to lead us and we're going to have a great country. Then we met up


with him in Chicago where he proved he hasn't lost any of the skills he


learnt on the streets of South London. Luol Deng should have been


enjoying a summer off, but he had some unfinished business to clear


up in the UK, as Leon Mann Luol Deng is leading a basketball


drive to reach new heights in the UK. The south Londoner is Team GB's


star attraction and a key factor in them making it into the Olympics


Games for the first time ever. But there's been more to his summer in


Britain than the weekend's Olympic test event. We got one year till


the Olympics. The Chicago Bulls star has been running his, own


grassroots initiative to give something back to the sport. Here


in south London, he has set up a training session for local kids and


in Loughborough he has his own week long basketball camp. I love


basketball, I love helping people, I love helping kids, and I want to


see basketball get better here in the UK. While I'm at a position I


can do something, I want to do something. As you can see, this


isn't your average sports camp - these guys are eating, sleeping and


breathing basketball. They hope to follow in the footsteps of their


hero in becoming a superstar at the highest level. Deng's story is


truly inspirational. Born in Sudan, a refugee raised in Brixton and


moving away from his family to America for the sport he loves at


just 14. At his camp, it's a story that's driving two Irish sisters,


Aoite and Deirdre to follow their dreams. The girls are from Dingle


on Ireland's remote west coast, where it's fair to say basketball


isn't everyone's first sporting priority. Basketball isn't that big


in Ireland as it is everywhere in the world because, Gaelic football


is bigger and there is more excitement about that. The sisters


are among the best in their country for their age but with no under


18's or senior team in Ireland, progressing in the sport is likely


to mean leaving home. Yeah, I'd love to be able go to America and


play college basketball over there after I've finished school here. At


the moment when there's no international team in Ireland, I


think that will be the next step for me hopefully. Back in


Loughborough, the NBA star is happy to offer some advice. Is it hard


moving away from your family? you're away from your family a long


time, it's hard but you learn how to do it, especially today you can


just get on Skype or get on the internet, get on Facebook. If you


want something badly, if you really want it, you'll put the time in.


Deng's vision is clear - that the legacy of his success in the NBA


and at the London Olympics touches as many people as possible, whether


it's in South London, Loughborough Here on World Olympic Dreams we are


following athletes who may end up being Olympic champions but we're


also following athletes who will struggle to qualify for the Olympic


Games in 2012. Now I know from personal experience that rowers


have it pretty tough, but imagine a situation where there are


roadblocks on the way to the boat club, there are corpses in the


river and training is sometimes interrupted by rocket attacks.


Iraqi rowers were last-minute qualifiers for the Beijing Games,


acquiring their place only after North Korea had declined the


invitation to compete. As I found out when I visited them in Baghdad


last year, qualification is till a long shot, considering the


difficulties of training on the But one rower has a better chance


then the rest - Haider Rashid. And recently I travelled to the World


Rowing Championships being held in Bled, Slovenia to see if he could


It might not be an opening ceremony to rival the Olympics but 20 years


after independence, Slovenia is proud to be hosting the Rowing


World Championships. Dozens of countries vying against one another


through sporting competition is one of the themes here, but life isn't


This is Haider Rashid, the single Iraqi rowing athlete for 2011 in


his home city of Baghdad, one of the most violent in the world. He


trains everyday and is a university student. Add in the security


checkpoints between his college and the Tigris and his sporting career


is even more demanding than it should be. Haider was given a


wildcard entry to make the Olympics in Beijing, but he's determined to


make it to London on his own merit. It's all about preparation, our


preparation. If we work right and do it the right way, I think it's


possible to qualify. So I will do my best to qualify because I need


to. Rowing demands more than just determination. Haider needs to


improve his technique and his tactics and he now has a European


coach to help him. He is realistic about his chances. I know he will


not be Olympic champion, he will not get to the final, but is it


possible that he improves so far that he can reach it by his own


means? This is important for me, if he is then in London, my mission is


accomplished. On the face of it, the challenge is almost too great,


but there are other examples within the rowing fraternity that Haider


can take heart from. There's been a lot of help going into Iraq from


different parties around the world, which has caused them to become


really motivated and given them the opportunity to train abroad, to


improve themselves and to participate at a reasonable level -


a good standard at the international level. This has been


a model for the others, a model we can show other countries how it can


happen, how you can reach the international level. Obviously


every athlete wants to win their races, but for Haider it's about


much more even then that. Racing on the world stage is a sign that Iraq


is finally emerging from the The result isn't entirely


unexpected - Haider finishes in the bottom group of scullers. He hasn't


secured his Olympic qualification, but his best chance for that will


come in early 2012. That's six more months of training, inspired by the


lessons of these championships and one of the most beautiful rowing


That's it for this edition, but our website contains all the report of


our 26 athletes that we're tracking on World Olympic Dreams - just go


to bbc.co.uk/london2012 and look out for the next edition of British


Olympic Dream on Saturday 17th Coming up next time on World


Olympic Dreams: Mongolian boxer Badar Uugan welcomes us to Nadaam -


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