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  • Haiti Update -- Olympian Looks Toward London; Ski Stars Raise Money


    01/28/10

    Joel Brutus said the Jan. 12 earthquake made him consider training for the London 2012 Olympics. (Getty Images)
    Earthquake Inspires Haitian Judoka

    The flagbearer from Haiti at the Beijing Olympics tells Around the Rings the Jan. 12 earthquake has made him consider a return to the Olympics in 2012.

    Joel Brutus said in an interview Tuesday that he never retired, he “just took a long break after the Olympics” in Beijing. But when the earthquake happened, Brutus said “I feel like I need to compete.

    Brutus, 35, placed 33rd in the heavyweight category in Beijing and was a medalist at the 2003 and 2007 Pan American Games. Brutus, who works for the U.S. Patent Office, lives in Alexandria, Va., outside Washington, D.C.

    According to Brutus, the overwhelming amount of support for sport in Haiti comes from the government, which was thrown into disarray after the earthquake.

    “That means judo is pretty much dead,” Brutus said.

    Brutus says he received a call from the International Judo Federation this week and was told that the IJF is formulating a plan to make sure the sport survives in Haiti.

    “I’ll just wait and see how they want to help,” Brutus said.

    For the short term he says Haiti will not be able to provide support for judoka and other athletes to make it to events and continue to train.

    According to Brutus, “it’s money” Haitian sport needs in the short term.

    Haiti traditionally goes to four international sporting events in an Olympiad Brutus said: the Central American and Caribbean Games, Pan American Games, Francophone Games and the Olympics.

    “The next big thing for Haiti, in my opinion, is the Central American and Caribbean Games. The way the country is right now, I’d say Haiti is not going to go. Unless the international federation or IOC they say: ‘we want Haiti to go anyway’.

    That’s the only way I can see them going because this not a priority right now for Haiti”.

    The Central American and Caribbean Games take place this July in Puerto Rico.

    Brutus says his first judo coach was one of the fatalities in the quake, along with his wife and children. But Brutus says other individuals involved with judo in Haiti were largely unharmed and that training facilities in Haiti remain standing.

    The personal toll for Brutus and his family was also
    Judo is the second biggest sport in Haiti according to Brutus. (Getty Images)
    low. His family “is OK” but he is still searching for long time friends.

    “So many people died…it’s not a good thing to see” Brutus said.

    While he says the earthquake has re-kindled his interest in making the team for the London Olympics, the earthquake has also made it more difficult for him to afford to keep going.

    “But the way Haiti is right now, I don’t know if [competing at the London Olympics] is realistic unless I can get some guarantees” from the IOC and other organizations to cover the “sacrifices” involved with training he said.

    “I am one of the best athletes in Haiti, unfortunately. The reason why I say ‘unfortunately’ because I wish I was the worst athlete in Haiti. Normally if I don’t go we don’t have [a chance] for a medal.

    “When I play for Haiti, I have a responsibility. So I have to take a lot on me.”

    Haiti Gets Help from Skiers

    Alpine skiers took the bibs off their backs to raise money for Haiti.

    Signed bibs worn by the women who competed at the FIS World Cup in Cortina last weekend are on eBay's main site, while men's bibs from the 70th running of the Hahnenkamm in Kitzbuehel are up for auction on eBay's Austrian site.

    The auctions end Saturday morning EST.

    Didier Cuche, the Swiss skier who won the Hahnenkamm, is way ahead of the rest of the field at 11,162 Euro ($15,800), while Bode Miller of the U.S. is at 1,460 Euro ($2,067).

    Lindsey Vonn, the reigning World Cup overall champ from the U.S., leads the women's bidding at $911 with more than four days to go, just as she led the field in Cortina.

    All proceeds go to the earthquake relief effort through the Red Cross in the U.S. and the eBay Haiti Charity 2010 in Austria.

    "When you're racing, you feel like there are so many things that you can control," Vonn said. "But really, there's so much in the world you can't control and unfortunately those things affect a lot of people. It's important for everyone to do what they can and I hope our little bit helps."

    Women's bibs from Cortina are at www.ebay.com (Keywords: haiti cortina), and men's bibs are online at www.ebay.at (Keywords: haiti startummer).

    Written by Ed Hula III and Karen Rosen..

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