By Steve Hofstetter
Freedrich Johanson has been trying to reunite with his mother for almost a decade. And though he hasnâ€™t yet been successful, at least heâ€™ll have a winter with her in his heart. Or Hearts.
Sweedenâ€™s Johanson is the odds-on favorite to win the first Hearts competition in Olympic history, but Johanson says that his desire to win a medal and the historical significance of the event are second and third to his quest to win back his mother.
â€œIâ€™ve been looking for her for as long as I can remember,â€ said a teary-eyed Johanson, whose memory dates back as far as 1996. â€œAll I know is that she lost me in a game of Hearts when I was seven. And Iâ€™ve been trying to find her ever since.â€
When he was 16, Johanson set out to find the woman who reared him, and says that he learned to play while searching for her in Hearts parlors across Sweeden. Johanson considers himself very lucky to be on top of his game while the sport is getting worldwide attention for the first time since Rutherford B. Hayes banned it in the 1880s. But Johanson is less excited for the actual victory, and more for what it could mean to him.
â€œIâ€™m hoping that these Olympics take my story to a world stage,â€ Johanson said, while sitting on a stage on a television show broadcast around the world. â€œAnd maybe if I win the gold, I could find the woman who loved me enough to teach me how to play this wonderful, wonderful game.â€
When asked about the metaphoric significance of participating in a sport called â€œHearts,â€ Johanson smiled. â€œThatâ€™s right,â€ he said. â€œAnd now Iâ€™m looking for the Queen.â€
When reminded that the Queen of Spades is usually a bad card to have, Johanson said, â€œOh. I meant of clubs. Queen of clubs.â€
Lets hope that he finds her, wherever she is.