Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Rooting for Grandson in Games; Fleming Island Resident Excited to Watch Alpine Skier Mohbat

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Rooting for Grandson in Games; Fleming Island Resident Excited to Watch Alpine Skier Mohbat

Article excerpt

Byline: Justin Barney

Sue Swain has heard the same thing from old friends and new ones over the past week and a half, and never gets tired of hearing it.

Having a grandson competing in the Winter Olympics will do that.

"I can't tell you how many times people have said 'I replayed the tape, I replayed the tape,' " Swain, a Fleming Island resident, said of the opening ceremonies from Sochi. "Or they said they had all their kids watch."

Sue Swain and her husband, Al, have a vested rooting interest in the Games this year and perhaps again in 2018.

Their grandson, 18-year-old alpine skier Alexandre Mohbat, is competing as one of just two athletes representing Lebanon (fellow skier Jacky Chamoun is the other). Mohbat, a one-time student at Fleming Island Elementary, will compete on Wednesday and Saturday in the slalom and giant slalom events, hoping, Swain said, to place in the top 50.

Swain would have claimed two-thirds of the Lebanese Olympic contingent but her 17-year-old granddaughter, Natacha Mohbat, tore her anterior cruciate ligament while training in Austria and underwent surgery last month. Alex, she said, carried the Lebanese flag in the opening ceremonies for his sister.

So how does one family - in Fleming Island of all places - produce two Olympic-caliber athletes in alpine skiing?

"All of our kids are skiers," said Sue Swain, who has three daughters and a son. "We ran a ski club in Buffalo for high school kids when we were there."

The Swain's later moved from New York to Miami, and then relocated to Fleming Island in 1994 - two years after Hurricane Andrew devastated Miami.

The area has been home ever since.

It was also home for a period of time for both Alex and Natacha, both of whom got their start in skiing from atop their father's shoulders, and then putting on their own sets of skis when they were 4 years old.

When the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah War broke out in Lebanon, their family moved both Alex and Natacha to Clay County to live with their grandparents. Both attended Fleming Island Elementary, rode their bikes to school every day and "enjoyed studying in the American system," their mother, Sally Swain Mohbat said in an email. …

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