Moroccan skier happy to share the Vancouver dream

Tue Feb 9, 2010 5:41am GMT

By Patrick Vignal

WHISTLER (Reuters) - Samir Azzimani felt so honoured to qualify for his first Winter Olympics in Vancouver that he decided to share the privilege.

The only athlete representing Morocco in Canada, the France-born Alpine skier is coming with eight secondary school children from Woippy, a depressed suburb of eastern French town Metz that made headlines for riots last month.

Azzimani, who grew up in a rough area of Colombes, outside Paris, simply wanted to share his dream with youngsters from a similar background.

"I'm organising everything myself," the 32-year-old told Reuters in a telephone interview before flying to Canada for the Games starting on Saturday.

"The idea is to allow them to see the Games from the inside," he added. "Finding the money and getting all the authorisations was hard but the toughest part was to convince the school."

Hardly anybody in France knew where Woippy was until youths torched cars and clashed with police there in January after a young man died while trying to flee police on a scooter.

Living there is tough but there is hope, as Azzimani can testify with his own story.

SCHOOL TRIP   Continued...

<p>Members of the U.S. women's ice hockey team train at the Olympic venue in Vancouver, British Columbia February 8, 2010. REUTERS/Andy Clark</p>
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