Africa is one of the world’s hottest continents, with few skiing opportunities, and as such only eight African countries competed at the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea. When it comes to the Winter Olympics, not many people think of African countries as serving up any serious contenders. In fact, after the 2018 games, most only give any serious consideration to Norway, Germany, Canada and the USA. But this year, there were several African athletes who made history. Here are the remarkable African athletes who rose to the challenge.
Akwasi Frimpong, Ghana’s first Winter Olympic skeleton athlete
One-time sprinter Akwasi Frimpong, from Ghana, turned to winter sports when an achilles injury prevented him from running. He made an appearance at this year’s Winter Olympics in the skeleton competition, and was the first Ghanaian skeleton athlete to participate in the winter games.
Kenya’s queen of the slopes, Sabrina Simader
Sabrina Simader is the first female alpine skier to represent Kenya at the Winter Olympics. Though born in Kenya, she grew up on the slopes in Austria, where her dad taught her to ski and dreamed of her one day featuring in the Winter Olympics. She told the BBC that her friends and colleagues were amazed at her ability on the slopes. ‘They were really shocked that a black girl can ski like like this,’ she said.
Madagascar’s teenage alpine superstar
Madagascan alpine skier Mialitiana Clerc may only be 16 years old, but she held an entire nation’s hopes on her skis as the nation’s only representative in the 2018 games. She learnt to ski in France at the tender age of three, and she’s one of the youngest athletes ever to compete.
Nigerian bobsledders make history
Three Nigerian women made history at the 2018 Winter Olympics by being the country’s first team to be represented at the event. The three self-described ‘goofballs’, Seun Adigun, Akuoma Omeoga and Ngozi Onwumerem, are accomplished athletes outside of winter events. Seun Adigun even represented her country in the 100-metre hurdles in the Summer Olympics. But given that the three bobsledders have only just picked up the sport as a team, their very appearance at the games is a remarkable achievement.
Inspiring skeleton comeback for Simidele Adeagbo
The 36-year-old Nigerian athlete Simidele Adeagbo may have just come back from a nine-year break from competitive sporting events, but after seeing the achievements of her countrywomen in the bobsledding, she too decided to rise to the challenge to become the first Nigerian woman to compete at the games.
She told the Winter Olympics media team, ‘They were already having the ambition to make this historic quest. I thought that it was such a great thing to do because it is important to leave a legacy and to make a way for future athletes. So immediately I wanted to be a part of it because I saw it as a way to make history and create a path for future athletes. That was the main reason I picked up the skeleton sport.’
Eritrean wonder Shannon-Ogbani Abeda
Eritrean alpine skier Shannon-Ogbani Abeda initially wanted to be an ice-[hockey player, but his parents had different hopes for his sporting prowess. Growing up in Canada, he set about becoming a proficient alpine skier, and at just 21 years old, he’s just become the first Eritrean ever to represent the country at the Winter Olympics.