Aussie LDS Olympian 'At Home' at SLC Games
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- Rowena Bright, age 21 and from Cooma
Australia, is one of five athletes from around the world known to be
members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Rowena
competed in the Alpine Combined event which includes of downhill and
slalom last week (she placed 24th) and will compete again this
Wednesday in the Slalom.
When the Summer Olympics were occurring in Sydney Australia in 2000,
Rowena could only imagine what it might be like to compete with
thousands of her compatriots cheering for her. While not exactly the
same, she thinks that being an LDS athlete and competing in Salt Lake
City comes close.
"There is an amazing amount of people here supporting me," she says.
"Volunteers have heard or read about me and they're always wishing me
good luck and telling me they're behind me. It's not quite the same
as what the Sydney athletes would have felt in the (2000 Olympics)
but it's got that sort of feeling for me."
Rowena is not a stranger to Salt Lake City. In 1995, she attended
the Rowmark Ski Academy which is part of a college-prep school in
Salt Lake City for three months. Then a government-backed athletic
program enticed her to return to Australia to train at home.
Five years ago, Rowena was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome
and has had to overcome that to qualify for the Olympic team. At the
World Championships in Austria last year, Rowena placed 14th in the
Alpine Combined and she says that she will be happy to place in the
top 15 during the Olympics.
Rowena enjoys alternative rock music and has interest in becoming an
artist or rock musician. Her parents, Peter and Marion, are in Salt
Lake City with Rowena's youngest sister, Abi, to cheer at her events.
Australian newspapers have described her trip to the Salt Lake
Olympics as a pilgrimage. She responds that, "This is my spiritual
home I guess and I'm just inspired by how the place was founded, with
the pioneers risking their lives to get here.
"When I first heard that this was where the Winter Games would be, I
decided then that this was the Olympics I would like to be at."
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By John Pye: AP Sports Writer
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Games take a spiritual twist for Cooma skier
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