Top Olympic Bid Stories of 2011: #4 Toby Dawson becomes star of PyeongChang 2018

GamesBids.com presents the fourth annual Top Ten list of Olympic Bid Stories for 2011. These stories impacted the course of Olympic bids, or the Olympic bid process, and formed interesting plotlines for the year. We’ll run them down from 10th to 1st during the holiday season.

Top Olympic Bid Stories of 2011: #4 Toby Dawson becomes star of PyeongChang 2018

This story struck so many chords that it stands alone as a powerful story for 2011 in any field whether it be Olympic bids, Olympic sports or even popular news. But it all happened during the final presentation for PyeongChang 2018 in Durban on July 6, 2011.

While South Korea’s Minister for Sport Byoung-gug Choung had already told the press that he had a “hidden card” for the final presentation, nobody knew that it would be American mogul skiier Toby Dawson who won bronze at the 2006 Olympic Winter Games. The story of this Korean-born athlete is a moving one – and with strong links to South Korea, the Olympics and South Korea’s evolving role in world-class winter sports – it couldn’t have been more appropriate or compelling for this stage.

One paragraph cannot justify the background story, but here goes; Born in Busan in 1978, Dawson’s Father lost his three-year old son in a busy market and the boy ended up in an orphanage and was eventually adopted by ski-instructor parents in Vail, Colorado, USA. He became a world-class moguls skiier and won bronze for the USA in 2006 where, on the medals podium, he uttered “mom, dad, I miss you” in Korean. That made national news in Korea and eventually, after DNA tests, led to a reunion with his father and brother in Busan one year later.

In 2011, the Minister of sport recruited Dawson for Pyeongchang’s bid – and with the help of renowned presentation scriptwriter Terence Burns – a new story outlining the need for a PyeongChang Olympics was born.

Dawson eloquently discussed his story, emotionally drawing in the IOC voting members, then revealed that he only had the opportunity to become an Olympian because of facilities available in his adoptive state of Colorado. Had he remained in Busan – he wouldn’t have achieved his dreams. PyeongChang’s previous bids and a 2018 Olympics will provide a valuable lagacy for future Korean athletes.

“Your support today for PyeongChang 2018 will truly change the lives of young athletes,” he said, driving home his point.

His remarks were very well-received by all who listened.

PyeongChang’s bid was already strong, but Dawson’s emotional presence likely sealed the deal.

Toby Dawson will go down in Olympic bid history as one of the most important final presentation speakers ever – even as he shared the stage with the South Korean President.

Watch for top 10 story #3 coming soon on GamesBids.com.

About Robert Livingstone


A senior producer and award-winning journalist covering Olympic bid business as founder of GamesBids.com as well as providing freelance support for print and Web publications around the world. Robert Livingstone is a member of the Olympic Journalists Association and the International Society of Olympic Historians.