TAZEWELL COUNTY, Va. - We are getting closer to the start of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, but concerns about security and fears of a terrorist attack are mounting. We set down with a local former Olympian to talk about the threats and if it will affect the athletes.
Debi Thomas made her trip to the Winter Olympics in Canada in 1988 with the U.S. Women's Figure Skating Team; she left with a bronze medal. "It's such a wonderful experience for the athletes to be able to represent their country," said Thomas.
Thomas says the Olympic Games are a time for athletes to be proud of their accomplishments for their country, but this year the threat of terrorist attacks have some worried about their safety. "It's really more about sportsmanship and bringing countries together. It's supposed to be a happy time, not a frightening time," she said.
The 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia have been threatened by Islamic militants; in a video posted on a website they promised to bring "a surprise" to the Olympics, but Thomas doesn't believe it will stop the athletes from participating. "There are probably no athletes that are like, 'Oh, I'm not going to go now because there are terrorist threats.' That's just not the way we're wired," she told us.
Thomas says that's because Olympians are risk-takers and have no fears. "When you train that hard for your whole life for something, you're going to have this attitude of, 'I don't care. I'm going to the Olympics, and I'm representing my country'," she said.
And because of that mentality, Thomas doesn't think the threats will hurt their performances. "I think you see better performances in the face of adversity than you do in those perfect situations," she said.
Thomas wants to encourage everyone to support our Olympians. "Go out and cheer for our athletes and pray for them and make sure they are safe," she said.
Thomas says for the athletes take everything in and enjoy it.
Thomas tells us she starting ice skating when she was five years old.
You can watch all the winter games on WCYB starting February 6.