No snow no problem: Meeting Portugal's winter Olympian
Rahul Pathak in Madrid

Cross country skiing is a highly technical sport that requires endurance, strength and speed.


It takes many athletes years to reach the standard required to compete at Beijing 2022.

For Jose Cabeca, it's taken less than 2 years - 2 years in which he has gone from skiing novice to Olympic athlete.

Triathlon Experience

Speaking to CGTN Europe via Zoom from his training camp in Norway he said his previous sport helped him in his new event.

"It's like I have a good training capacity because of triathlon, the sport I came from. I think it was that I had the right mindset and I worked really hard," he said.

Cross country skiing events have been part of every Winter Olympics since the first games back in 1924. Norway and Sweden have been the most successful nations in that time.

But unlike the Scandinavian nations, Portugal’s climate and location are not conducive to winter sports.

Training challenges

The lack of skiing facilities in the country has been a major challenge for Jose, but one which he's managed to overcome, and he told CGTN Europe he hopes his example may well inspire others.

"I hope so and not just about taking up winter sports, but to teach everyone, it's possible to make changes in your career even if it's later in life. Because I'm 25 years old of course I'm young, but nobody starts a new sport to try to go to the Olympics in 23 almost 24 when I started."

The winter Olympics have a rich history of athletes from less traditional nations taking part. The Jamaican bobsled team that competed in the Calgary games in 1988 is a testament to that.  

While the novelty of a Portuguese cross country skier will certainly turn some heads initially, Jose Cabeca's journey from skiing novice to winter Olympian may well have a more lasting legacy in inspiring people back home to begin their own Olympic dreams.

Cover image: CGTN Europe

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