Granted, we run like wizards, but would you believe a ‘Kenyan’ is participating in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia? Okay, Oduya is representing Sweden but that is a small detail his proud ‘mother country’ can ignore.
David Johnny Oduya was born on October 1, 1981, in Stockholm, Sweden. Oduya’s father, George Oduya was a Kenyan journalist who had gone to Sweden for studies and met Johnny’s mom, Birgitta. George and Birgitta fell in love, married and had two sons, Fredrik (Freddy) and Johnny.
Freddy would in 1993 be drafted into the San Jose Sharks, but never played in the NHL making Johnny the first player of Kenyan descent in the NHL. Sadly, Fredrik died in a motorcycle accident in Austria in the summer of 2011
Johnny was a typical little brother, tagging along with Fredrik to the rink, reason, perhaps, why he followed him into a hockey career. In an interview with Canadian newspaper The Windsor Star Johnny talked about memories of his brother Freddy’s hockey days.
“I think it was at my first game that he played, I was something like three weeks old (in hockey),” remembered Johnny, a defenseman with the Chicago Blackhawks.
“I was always around the rinks growing up. For anybody, you look up to older siblings playing hockey. Obviously, that factor got me into hockey, too.”
Fredrik was just a lad of 16 when he made the bold decision to leave home in Stockholm, Sweden and cross the Atlantic Ocean to suit up for the Bulldogs of the Western Ontario Junior B Hockey League.
But in Sochi, there’s a chance that Johnny Oduya and regular defense partner Niklas Hjalmarsson could be paired together on Team Sweden. Oduya is a smart, athletic defenseman who skates well. He can also play the physical game, win the puck battle in the corner and then start the attack up the ice.
Oduya first played organised [professional] hockey in his hometown of Stockholm, Sweden for the Hammarby IF Hockey playing as a junior (as of 2008, the club no longer exists due to financial difficulties).
One of his fans, Sunshine, describes him as rookie, saying, “Oduya is not a great offensive threat — he has never scored more than seven goals in a season—but he understands how and when to jump into the attack and leave his position on the blue line. He plays with courage and could provide the X-factor that allows Sweden to get over the top against the best opponents.”
The 41-year-old rabid hockey fan and blogger in Atlanta says in 2000, Oduya moved to the US to join the QMJHL (Quebec Major Junior Hockey League) dividing his time between two teams – Victoriaville Tigres and Moncton Wildcats – for a single season before returning to Stockholm (2000-01) to play two more seasons with the Hammarby IF Hockey (2001-02, 2002-03). In the 2003-04 season, he signed on with Djurgårdens IF Hockey, which was part of the Swedish Elitserien (Elite league).
“As soon as I heard Johnny Oduya was coming to Atlanta, I was running around the house screaming! He has one of the coolest names in hockey! I was already a big fan of his when he was with the Devils. I called him ‘Swedish Hot Chocolate.”
Oduya loves hip-hop and when asked about his collection he says, “Nowadays everybody has a lot of songs on their iPod, but I don’t have that many songs. I try to mix it up, though. The most that I have on there is 1990’s hip hop, a little bit of 1980’s stuff and some dance music from Europe.”
According to http://icehockey.wikia.com, for his impressive offensive skills, fans refer to Johnny Oduya as Johnny Orr-duya referring to incredible offensive defenceman, Bobby Orr.
Incredibly, this is not the first time a Kenyan is participating in the Winter Olympics. Oduya was beaten to the tape when Philip Kimely Boit put on his skis and set out to represent the continent’s athletics powerhouse at the Nagano Winter Olympics in 1998.
In a recent interview with BBC, Boit narrated how the unexpected friendship with Norwegian Olympic Gold medalist and world’s most successful cross-country skier, Bjorn Daehlie turned him into a poster boy for snow sports in Africa.
“It was a bit challenging at first because I had never experienced cold weather like that in my life. Even putting on skis was so difficult! But after some time, I learned to adapt.”
Boit narrated how the crowd went wild when he eventually entered the stadium making him to get ‘a sudden burst of energy’ saying, “They were shouting ‘Kenya GO! Philip GO!’ It was like I was winning a medal even though I was last.”
Boit would eventually finish 20 minutes after the race winner Daehlie had crossed the line and stood there waiting for him (Boit) instead of going straight to the medal ceremony.
“We heard on the speaker that he was near the stadium, and I felt really impressed that he was able to finish the race in these conditions. I wanted to wait to have him over the finish line – this African, brave skier,” explained Daehlie.