One of the best parts of any Olympics is seeing the athletes from the smaller countries, for whom the games represents much more than a shot at a sponsorship deal. We’re always hearing about so-and-so winning so-and-so’s first ever medal, and going home to a hero’s welcome in his new gold-plated hovermansion.
Then there’s Rasul Boqiev, Tajikistan’s first ever Olympic medalist. He had to leave the country to find work. And you thought our economy was in trouble.
Boqiev, who won a bronze in judo in Beijing, was given Tajikistan’s Medal of Honor, $2300, and a swift kick in the ass. Times are tough in Dushanbe, especially for someone who’s only job skill is throwing you to the ground. So Boqiev is now working as a taxi driver in Moscow to make ends meet.
Boqiev continues to train, and hopes to represent his country (Tajikistan, not Russia) at the 2012 Olympics, where he will no doubt try to defect to the U.K.