Columbia Heights, Minnesota
By Gabe Hewitt, iLander Student Editor
The Olympics are a time when countries from around the world can come together as one and compete athletically. Fans cheering for their home countries to win the gold in the 2012 Olympics in London sometimes feel multiple connections to the events.
Those fans might not even be residents of their home countries. So why do they cheer for a country they don’t live in?
Heights Teen Kestutis Ambrutis was born in Klausuciai, Lithuania, in 1994. Even though he only spent five years of his life there before moving to Minnesota, he said that he still feels a connection to Lithuania.
He and his family watched the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics as Lithuania walked in the Parade of Nations.
“It makes me proud to be a Lithuanian and know that my country can compete in front of the world,” he said.
Ambrutis says that he and his family bond over watching their home country compete. He’s most excited about Lithuania’s men’s basketball team and is looking forward to when they play the United States on Aug. 4. He said his heart hangs with both countries, but will be happier if Lithuania wins the game.
Heights Teen Eloy Galan was born in the United States, but prefers to cheer for Mexico’s Olympic team. His roots go back to Mexico, he said, so it almost feels natural for him to favor Mexico’s athletes over those from the United States. Like Ambrutis, Galan also uses the Olympics as a time to bond with his family. In his case, it is over Mexico’s soccer team.
“It’s always good to have some good quality time with your family and cheer your country on,” he said. “Soccer is what brings us together.”
Before moving to the United States two years ago, Tai Trinh rarely ever saw coverage of Vietnam’s Olympic team. Televisions didn’t have specific channels that showed the Olympics, so he had to hear a lot of what was going on from his friends. Now that he’s living in the United States, he’s able to watch all of Vietnam’s events and said he feels a sense of pride knowing his home country can compete on a national stage.
“We’re a small country with small athletes,” he said. “Even if we don’t win any medals, I’ll feel good knowing we could compete in the biggest sporting event in the world.”
Nebiyu Kebede said his excitement over Ethiopia in multiple track and field events is an understatement.
“Running has brought honor to our country in the Olympics,” he said.
Kebede has lived in the United States for six years and calls it his “second home.” Because of this, he said he’d be disappointed and happy if Ethiopia lost a track and field event to the United States.
Even if they don’t live where they or their parents were born, these teens have a feeling inside of them that drives them to root for their countries. That feeling gives the phrase “home sweet home” more than one meaning.
(Photo: Opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympics in London. Photo by Getty Images. Used with educational intent.)