Did a British Athlete Have to Make a Quick Move Across the Globe to Qualify for the Olympics?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about the Olympics and Olympians and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the Olympic urban legends featured so far.

OLYMPIC URBAN LEGEND: A British athlete had to make a quick (and strange) move to find a country to compete for in the Olympics.

Yamilé Aldama had a problem.

The Cuban born triple jumper had been living in London, England, for three years, but she was unable to obtain a passport.

She had competed for Cuba in the 2000 Summer Olympics in the triple jump (coming in fourth) and now she wanted to compete for England.

However, things were going quite slowly (it did not help that her Scottish-born husband had recently been arrested on drug charges), and she already had missed out on the 2003 World Championships in France because of her lack of a passport.

Despite the aide of UK Athletics, the earliest she could obtain a British passport would be November 2004, some three months after the conclusion of the Olympic Games in Athens, Greece.

With seemingly nowhere else to turn, Aldama turned to, of all places, the Sudan.

She traveled to the capital city of Sudan, Khartoum, and within two days, the large African nation (large in size and population but low on Olympic medals) now had one more citizen, Yamilé Aldama.

Aldama has done well for her new country at the various African championships, coming in first in her even three times since 2004, but the games that she was “hired” for, the 2004 Olympics, saw a smaller return on Sudan’s “investmant,” as Aldama came in fifth in the event.

She did not compete in 2008.

The legend is…

STATUS: True

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