New Yorker Gary di Silvestri will be one of the oldest Americans competing in this year’s Olympics, and the only one competing on behalf of Dominica, an island nation in the Caribbean.
Di Silvestri, 47, and his wife, Angelica Marrone di Silvestri, 48, have both earned spots on Dominica’s cross country skiing team for the Sochi Olympics next month.
Neither of them are from Dominica.
Similar stories have played out in prior Olympics, as athletes from one country have competed for another country. United States citizens have competed as boxers for Mexico, bobsledders for Armenia and Greece, and lugers for Venezuela. Athletes can often compete for another nation if they have a parent or grandparent from there.
In this case, Staten Island native di Silvestri and his wife, an Italian citizen, began doing philanthropy work in Dominica that led to them being offered citizenship, according to the Staten Island Advance.
“We got involved with the country through philanthropic activities and that’s how we ended up being offered citizenship, a kind of a thank you.” Gary di Silvestri told the paper. ”They contacted us in November and we’ve basically had two months to do what people do in two years. It’s been a full-time job and we’ve been traveling to every venue possible to enter events where we could meet qualifying times in order to be in the Olympics.
Both skiers worked in finance in New York earlier in their careers, but have devoted more of their time to philanthropy and competitive skiing in recent years, according to the paper. The couple could not be reached for comment by ABC News today.
They will compete in the men’s classical race and women’s classical race to be held during the second week of games.