JOHANNESBURG - PyeongChang 2018 will see eight African countries represented at the Winter Olympics, the most African participants in history, when the Games commence on Friday, 9 February.
Way back in 1988 at the Calgary Olympics, the unfancied Jamaican bobsled team, fresh out of the island sunshine made their debut at the winter showpiece and now, three decades later, Africa looks to have its presence felt.
Nigeria made headlines in late 2017 when their female bobsled team qualified for the games. As did South African Connor Wilson, who is the lone South African heading to South Korea.
The Nigerian bobsled team boast three track athletes who join the African contingent in PyeongChang, including Wilson, Ghana's Akwasi Frimpong, Kenya’s Sabrina Simader and Madagascar’s Mialitiana Clerc.
#BREAKING:— Real News Line (@RealNewsLine) February 1, 2018
How #Nigeria's first ever Winter Olympians went from track-to-bobsled
Three Nigerian-American women are making history - and their Olympic dreams come true -- by being the first ever African bobsled team to qualify for the #WinterOlympics. https://t.co/vtIe7xcUZ1 pic.twitter.com/A7V2PYUiL8
Nigeria and Eritrea will enter uncharted territory as the make their debuts at the games, with South Africa, Kenya, Ghana, Morocco, Madagascar and Togo rounding off the African faction.
A total of 13 African athletes will represent their countries and continent at PyeongChang 2018.
SA’s Wilson (21), who competes for the South African Active Club, will compete in the Alpine Skiing slalom/giant slalom event.
Based in Johannesburg, at the end of last year Wilson was ranked 54th in the giant slalom and 71st in the slalom event.
File: Connor Wilson competing at the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships at St Moritz in 2017. Credit: AFP
A total of two South African athletes qualified for the one available Alpine Skiing slot at these Winter Olympics.
SASCOC selected Wilson on the basis of his world ranking which was superior to his other counterpart and had the potential to do best for the country.
Team management for Connor will be Mr Peter Pilz who will also assume a coaching role. He will be assisted by Eastern Cape skier Sive Speelman who will be the team’s technical official.
“Coming from a dry country like South Africa with extremely limited winter sport conditions, our teams to winter sports have traditionally always been small,” said SASCOC President Gideon Sam.
“But, as we do in all our myriad sports, snow sports are still an important part of the sporting family. We wish Connor all the best and I’m also sure that Sive Speelman is going to gain a wealth of experience during his time in South Korea.”
The 2018 Winter Games will take place between 9-25 February.