With the Olympic Games finally upon us, many spectators are focused on living legends like Brazilian soccer superstar Neymar, Jamaicaâ€™s record-holding sprinter Usain Bolt or Michael Phelps, the American swimmer whoâ€™s won more Olympic hardware than any athlete in history.
And thatâ€™s just to name a few. The mega-event certainly doesnâ€™t lack star power. But the Games also feature plenty of compelling competitors who arenâ€™t household names â€" at least not beyond the borders of their home nations. Each comes to Brazil with his or her own goals and incredible life stories. And all of them carry the hopes of their respective countries on their shoulders. Here are five of those athletes.
Dutee Chand, India (sprinter)
This 20-year-old speed demon will be Indiaâ€™s first Olympic sprinter since 1980. She will compete in the womenâ€™s 100-meter event, starting Aug. 12, when sheâ€™ll try to beat her personal best of 11.24 seconds â€" an Indian record. Two years ago she was banned from the sport due to hyperandrogenism, a condition that causes the body to produce excess testosterone. She appealed the ban and in July 2015 was cleared to compete again. â€œThere are five members in my family. My parents used to struggle to put food on our plates,â€ Chand explained in a recent interview with The Times of India. â€œIt was also difficult to train. I didn't have shoes, so was forced to run barefoot.â€
Kazuki Yazawa, Japan (kayaker)
Winner of last yearâ€™s canoe slalom national tournament in Japan, this 27-year-old also participated in the 2012 Olympic Games in London. It was shortly after that experience that Yazawa found an entirely new calling: Buddhism. He became a priest in 2013. According to the Japan Times, that won't stop him from trying to grab a gold medal in Rio.
Tomás González, Chile (gymnast)
With the exception of multiple tennis medals in the 2004 Games, Chile hasnâ€™t had a tremendous amount of Olympic success. The country is hoping to reverse that trend this year with Tomás González, 30, a gymnast who stopped just short of medaling in the 2012 Games. â€œI think Iâ€™m the second best in the world for the floor exercise, so Iâ€™m very motivated,â€ he told the Chilean broadcaster TVN.
Yona Knight-Wisdom, Jamaica (diving)
This British-born athlete could have competed for England or even Barbados (his motherâ€™s home country) but instead chose to represent his fatherâ€™s native Jamaica in the Olympics, a first for the country. The 20-year-oldâ€™s size â€" he's 6â€™2â€™â€™ and weighs almost 200 pounds â€" makes makes him an unusual competitor in the sport.
Maryan Nuh Muse, Somalia (runner)
The 19-year-old is one of just two athletes representing her country in Brazil. Nuh Muse has competed throughout Africa in numerous regional competitions but never before in the Olympics. â€œI am hoping to shine,â€ she told the African Union Mission in Somalia of her upcoming participation in the womenâ€™s 400-meter event.
An appetite for gentrification
Informal street vendors are casualties.
On paper, this all sounds great.
A call for food justice
Food, it seems, has become the perfect lure.
Upending an existing foodscape
Longtime residents find themselves forced to compete against the "urban food machine"
But that doesn't mean objections don't exist.
All represent strategies to meet community needs in a place mostly ignored by mainstream retailers.
So what happens when new competitors come to town?
Starting at a disadvantage
When I see that City Heights' home prices rose 58% over the past three years, I'm not surprised.
Going up against the urban food machine
I argue that investors and developers use food as a tool for achieving the same ends.
It's hard to see how that's a form of inclusion or empowerment.
- The Perverse Effect Of Street Art On Neighborhood Gentrification ... ›
- Taiwan To Hong Kong To L.A., Birth Of Bubble Tea Culture ... ›
- How The Pandemic Is Helping Reinvent Food Production ... ›
- What's Chic Now In Paris Dining? African-American Soul Food ... ›