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Canadian cyclist could win Yukon's first Olympic medal

Alaska Dispatch

The Yukon Territory -- Canada's almost empty province between Alaska and the rest of the United States -- could lay claim to its first Olympic medalist this week.

Canadian cyclist Zachary Bell has a fairly good shot at medaling in track cycling at this year's Olympic Games. Bell comes from Whitehorse, which is far and away the biggest city in the Yukon. According to the 2011 census, Whitehorse's population was just over 23,000, a number which would barely qualify it as a small town in most American states.

In fact, the entire Yukon, a place about the size of Spain, only contains an estimated 34,984 people. The entire Territory's population is just under that of Fairbanks, the second largest city in Alaska. And that total doesn't even include the surrounding 50,000 or more folks who live in the Alaska version of suburbs.

Previous to London, Bell competed in the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing, China, but he felt he was not as prepared then as he is now. Bell told Canada's National Post:

For me it’s a different journey, (in Beijing) I was one of the qualified athletes, trying to hang on for dear life. This time, hopefully I’ll be able to make things happen more on my terms.

Bell is set to compete in men's Omnium at London's Olympic Velodrome, built especially for the games and nicknamed "The Pringle" for its architectural resemblance to the snack food. Races will take place Sunday morning.