Live from PyeongChang, South Korea, the Winter Olympics are here! It’s no surprise that Africans are few and far between (because it’s gonna be cold af) but this year we’ve seen the amount of representatives go up, mostly thanks to our women. Take a look at the 8 countries represented by 13 athletes that we will be rooting for!
Nigeria’s debut at the Winter Olympics has been highly anticipated for its female bobsled team, made up of three accomplished track-and-field stars: Seun Adigun, Akuoma Omeoga, and Ngozi Onwumere. Although Adigun has represented Nigeria before in the 2012 Olympics, This group become the first African team to participate bobsled event at the Winter Olympics. The journey to the Winter Olympics has not been an easy one for the ladies. First, all three had to learn the sport for the first time (using a wooden sled they nicknamed “The Maeflower”) They also had to set up Nigeria’s national bobsled federation, raising money through a GoFundMe campaign to help pay for training and buy equipment. But all that hard work has begun paying off even before the Games begin. Global brands including Under Armour, Visa, and Beats by Dre have partnered with the team. Their competition starts Tuesday the 20th.
Along with the bobsled team, Simidele Adeagbo is on the verge of making history as the first female skeleton athlete from Africa to qualify for the Olympics. A former triple-jump athlete, Simi unsuccessfully tried to qualify for the Summer Olympics 10 years ago. However, her dream to become an Olympian will come true in Pyeongchang, a feat largely inspired by the bobsled team. After initially trying to join the bobsledders, she took up skeleton and qualified even though her first race ever was just last November. Her competition starts Friday the 16th.
32-year-old Akwesi Frimpong from Ghana is making history as the countries first Skeleton athlete. Moving to the Netherlands when he was just eight, he missed the 2012 London Olympics through injury and was put on reserve on the Dutch bobsleigh team in Sochi four years ago. “Africa has never won a winter medal before and Ghana has never won a gold medal in the Olympics. It would be a great honour to do that.” – Akwesi. His competition starts Thursday the 15th.
Also their first appearance in the Winter Olympics, Shannon-Ogbani Abeda will be competing in the Alpine Skiing competition. As the country’s sole participant at the Winter Olympics, Shannon-Ogbani Abeda will carry the Eritrean flag at the opening and closing ceremonies in Pyeongchang. Abeda first started skiing when he was three. It won’t be his first time representing Eritrea at an international sports tournament though, as represented Eritrea at the Youth Olympics in Austria in 2012 when he was only 16. His competition starts Sunday the 11th.
16-year-old Mialiatana Clerc will be representing her country in the Alpine Skiing event. Adopted by french parents, she started learning to ski at the age of 3, and her father, Stephane Clerc, will be her coach for the olympics. She is the first Malagasy woman to take part in the Winter Olympics and the only athlete from her country to take part in this year’s event. Her event starts Monday the 12th.
19-year-old Sabrina Wanjiku Simader is the first woman to appear in the Winter Olympics from Kenya as an Alpine Skiing athlete. Moving to Austria from Kenya at a young age, this contender became fascinated by the snow and turned her hobby from playing in it, to competing in it. “I am different but I want people to remember me for my exceptional performance and not just for having a different skin” – Sabrina. Her event starts Monday the 12th.
The Lamhamedi brothers, Sami and Adam are both competing for the Gold Medal for their country this year. Adam, 22, has won more than 51 medals, including 22 at senior level, mostly won in the Eastern Canadian University Championship. He became the first alpine skier representing an African nation to win gold at the Winter Youth Olympic Games by claiming victory in super G at the 2012 Games in Innsbruck, Austria. “I wanted to prove that Moroccans can ski well, and I proved it.” – Adam. His competition starts Sunday the 11th.
21-year-old Connor Wilson will compete in the Alpine Skiing slalom/giant slalom event. At the end of 2017, he was ranked the 54th best giant slalom skier in the world, and 71st in slalom itself. His competition starts Sunday the 11th.
The francophone country will be making their second Winter Olympics in the Alpine Skiing and cross-country skiing by Alessia Afi Dipol and Mathilde-Amivi Petitjean, respectively. Her event starts Monday the 12th.