February 7, 2018 / 3:21 AM / a year ago

Olympic joy warms Colombian skaters in chilly Gangneung

GANGNEUNG, South Korea (Reuters) - For the two Colombian speed skaters competing in South Korea, the bitter cold is “horrible” but their joy at being selected for the Winter Olympics has filled them both with a warm, fuzzy glow.

Inline skater Laura Gomez Quintero has yet to receive an official Olympic uniform or skin suit after only discovering last week that she would be representing her country at the Games alongside compatriot Pedro Causil.

“I am in shock now because I was only told last week,” Gomez Quintero told reporters on Wednesday. “To be in Korea is a super surprise. I don’t know how I am here.”

With daytime temperatures in Gangneung, venue for the indoor sports, just below freezing and the mercury plummeting sharply at night, the cold is something the skaters from Colombia’s tropical climes are struggling to come to terms with.

“It is cold,” Gomez Quintero added. “It’s horrible because we are used to the summer all the time, but this is the real winter and we are at the Winter Olympics. I’m super happy.”

The 27-year-old began inline skating at the age of three and started speed skating “for fun” last July. She will take part in the women’s mass start in South Korea and is hoping her suit arrives in time for the event.

“I have my suit for the World Cup but not the official uniforms for the Olympic Games,” she added. “I am waiting.”

Causil, who has raced alongside Gomez Quintero in the same inline team, switched to speed skating because their chosen discipline is not an Olympic sport.

He trains at the Oval in Salt Lake City, and is enjoying the adventure of his first Olympics.

“I’m still in shock even after my coach said I qualified because it seemed so far for me,” the 26-year-old said.

“Normally I’m someone who doesn’t take much pictures and I try to be calm, but right now I am crazy with everything. It’s a good experience. I want to enjoy this but I want to race and be competitive too.”

Editing by John O'Brien

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