Spread the love

Avellon Williams 

PUERTO RICO- Despite his young age, Puerto Rican ski racer William Flaherty, 17,  already knows Wednesday’s slalom race may be the last time he races at the Olympics, as a “saddening” forced retirement from the sport is approaching.

Following the Beijing Games, Flaherty will compete in the world junior ski championships in Canada in March; however, his immediate focus will be a career-ending appointment with the surgeon.

Flaherty told AFP that he will undergo an operation on his leg where one of the bones from his leg will be removed and shaped into a new jawbone.

“Medical complications never stop, but it’s fine. It’s become part of my life at this point.”

A cancer survivor, Flaherty had a bone marrow transplant when he was three. His brother Charles donated the bone marrow.

Beijing games /Courtesy/

Health problems resurfaced, leading to a tumour removal that left his left lower mandible hollow.

“Unfortunately, that will probably be the end of my ski racing career,” Flaherty said of the operation to repair it.

“I’ll move on to the next chapter in my life and can’t wait to see what awaits me.

“It is quite saddening to know that I won’t go into the next Olympics,” he added.

William Flaherty /Courtesy/


A two-run event in the giant slalom on Sunday saw Flaherty finish 40th and more than 32 seconds behind gold medalist Marco Odermatt of Switzerland.

The Puerto Rican followed in the footsteps of his brother, who finished 73rd at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

First Olympian from the tropical unincorporated territory of the United States in two decades, Charles competed in the ice skating event.

In spite of the loss of their father after the Pyeongchang Games, the siblings share a strong bond.

“Charles has done so much for me… I’ve looked up to him for many years and probably will for many years to come,” Flaherty said.

In addition to saving his life, his brother had sown the seeds of his Olympic dream and helped it become a reality.

The Flaherty family /Courtesy/

“It’s a pity he’s not here, but he’s fulfilling his next dream of becoming a rocket scientist,” he said.

“I couldn’t be happier for him and I’m sure he feels the same for me even though he probably wouldn’t admit it to me!”

For Flaherty, who comes across as older than he actually is, there was no room for hindsight or introspection.

His words were telling, “Obviously, I’ve overcome a lot. I just keep looking forward, ahead, and this is where I ended up,” he said.

He added, with determination and perseverance, it shows that no matter what life throws at you, you can achieve your dreams and no one can take that away from you except yourself.

“It means the world to me to be here, especially with everything I’ve done. It’s the climax of eight years of work, so it’s amazing.”

According to Flaherty, he will leave Beijing enriched by the new friendships he made.

William and Charles Flaherty /Courtesy

During the Olympics, he observed, “people can essentially unite based on anything they have in common, such as sport”.

“It provides me with hope for the future of the world.”

About Author

Avellon Williams