1.Who are you?
Baldur Sveinbjörnsson. I am the only African-Icelandic player on the Icelandic Olympic team for the Vancouver 2010 Games. My sport is biathlon. I achieved a personal best by finishing in last place in the men’s 20 kilometer biathlon on Thursday, February 18. My mother thinks I am a star. My father – rest his soul – would have been proud, I hope. Now, it is time to party! I’m also really, really tall. (Editor’s Note: check out the size of the biathlon rifle next to Baldur…it’s pretty darn small – let’s just say it was easy to spot him in the International Press Centre, where the Gumboot editorial staff spent a lot of time during the Olympics.)
2. What do you do for fun?
I polish my rifle. Shoot rabbits with my non-biathlon rifle (it is illegal to shoot anything but targets with your rifle, but that doesn’t stop the Norwegians from practicing on muskrats). I really like writing haikus about my father’s homeland, Tanzania. One day, I hope to visit Tanzania and start a biathlon program in Dar es Salaam.
3. What is your favourite community and why?
The women’s biathlon community. In this community, I am a love god. Some call me a combination of Thor, Odin and Loki – and I can dance like Justin Timberlake. The biathlon community has taken me in as their own, even if I am a foot taller than everyone here.
4. What is your superpower?
My willingness to break all the rules – even my own – to do the right thing.
5. How do you use it to build community?
The world is not designed for tall people. My willingness and skill at breaking all the rules makes me well suited to be a height-centred ambassador to the short community. I like to think that I bring a new, better, “taller” perspective to your world. Exit signs shouldn’t be seven feet off the ground, you know – some people hit their head on them.
My three favourite things about Baldur are…
1. He’s Tall. When the Daily Gumboot editors were investigating the stories of the games in the International Media Centre (sorry, VANOC, for not actually writing anything about the Olympics yet…), Baldur was easy to find because, well, he is a seven-foot-tall biathlon athlete – biathlete? Since meeting Baldur, he has helped us reach no fewer than six things that were up high and out of our reach. He can also see over the fence that surrounds the Olympic flame.
2. Baldur is a Love God. We don’t want to say that Baldur has a harem of attractive women always following him, but he doesn’t not have a crowd of attractive women always following him. Being the generous fellow that he is – and being done all of his events – Baldur was good enough to take Kurt and John on a few sojourns through the intense and passionate gamut that is the Athletes’ Village in False Creek. That’s really all that we can say about this.
3. Kindness and Community Become Him. The Daily Gumboot’s editors and correspondents have been searching for athletes to interview since the games began – after speaking (or trying to speak to) over 50 competitors, we could only wrangle an interview with two Russian aerialists. Without a translator, it was a pretty difficult conversation, but Kurt and John might be married to them now (we may or may not have been representing ourselves as “editors” of the New York Times). Baldur, without his fancy “badge” or an Icelandic track suit, was more than happy to talk to us. We took him at face value and stand by the above facts that make up his inspiring story. Because that’s how you build community.
As told by John and Kurt…