Colombian speedskater Jay Ramirez moved to Germany on Monday to start an intensive training that he hopes will lead to him representing Colombia at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
Ramirez — born in the town of Anserma, Caldas — set his hopes at performing at the 5,000, and 10,000 kilometers, distances generally ruled by the Dutch, Russians and South Koreans.
“I believe these distances may be better suited to me, however, this is something that will be decided with the help of the coaches,” Ramirez told Colombia Reports from London where he’s been living since he was 12.
The athlete acknowledged that the odds are against him as so far not one Colombian has been able to qualify in the Winter Olympics since they were held first in 1924. In fact, “to my knowledge, there has not been any speed skaters from South America,” said Ramirez.
In 2010, the qualifying time for the 5,000 meters was set at six minutes and 35 seconds and the 10,000 meters was set at 13 minutes and 30 seconds. There are no records of any Colombian ever having skated this fast on ice.
“I know how hard it is going to be but I would not have set out on this challenge if I did not feel that I could achieve the qualifying times. I am however taking it one month at a time,” Ramirez added.
Because neither Colombia nor London have speed skating rings, the athlete moved to Berlin where he will be training on ice full time and has access to professional trainers.
“I have been working for the past few months on my core training and endurance by doing some track training, gym training, roller skating training and running up to 50K (31 miles) per week,” Ramirez said.
The Colombian sportsman has not received any financial support from official sponsors or the Colombian Olympic Committee. So far, he has financed his dream by using up his savings, but “now with the move to Germany I am in need of finding sponsorship deals, as otherwise the challenge may not materialize.”
Ramirez is hopeful about “the Colombian Ambassador and his team in London who have recently put me in touch with [Colombian sports federation] Coldeportes and the Colombian Olympic Committee.”
Through these contacts and possible commercial sponsors, Ramirez will have to find the money to live and train until the Olympics start on February 7, 2014.
“At the moment I am working and calculating things on an annual basis and I am anticipating that from September 2011 to August 2012, I need to raise a total of $39,000. This figure will include coaching, access to training facilities, accommodation, utility bills, insurance and transport,” said the athlete.
While Ramirez is in Berlin, a web design company in London is preparing his website to allow individual supporters to donate money.