The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has confirmed that 13 African athletes will be competing at the Winter Olympics, which got underway on Feb 9 in PyeongChang, South Korea.
With a total of 2,925 athletes from 92 countries and regions taking part, the 2018 Winter Olympics set a record for the largest number of competitors ever at the storied event.
Of these, eight African countries will be represented at the games, which is the most African participants in the history of the Winter Olympics.
Kenya will be having its first shot at the medal table led by its sole representative Skier Sabrina Wanjiku in the super giant-slalom alpine skiing category.
“Kenyans are expectant and have realistic chance of winning a medal courtesy of Sabrina’s determination. Everybody is hopeful of Kenya’s chances to advance in these Games through Sabrina Wanjiku,” said National Olympic Committee of Kenya Chairman Paul Tergat.
Nigeria and Eritrea will enter uncharted territory as the make their debuts at the Games, with South Africa, Ghana, Morocco, Madagascar and Togo and Kenya being the other Africa nations in PyeongChang.
South Africa will send Connor Wilson with Nigeria having three track athletes while Ghana has Akwasi Frimpong and Madagascar boasts Mialitiana Clerc.
Kenya’s Philip Boit was the first from East Africa to make it to the Winter Olympics in Nagano in 1988. He competed in cross-country skiing at the 1998, 2002 and 2006 Games. Boit will serve as Wanjiku’s team manager in PyeongChang.
Though Boit was the first Kenyan to take part in the Winter Games, he was not the first African. That honor went to Senegal’s Alpine skier Lamine Gueye, who competed at Sarajevo 1984.