Posted by News Express | 8 February 2014 | 3,547 times
Africa may not have snow but that has not stopped the continent from seeking glory at the Winter Olympics. As a matter of fact, three countries from the continent are among the 88 hunting for medals at the XXII Olympic Winter Games which opened yesterday at the “Fisht” Olympic Stadium in Sochi, Russia, and runs till February 23, 2014.
Togo and Zimbabwe are making their debut at the Winter Olympics while Morocco has featured sporadically from 1968.
Togo: The West African country is represented by a two-woman team of Mathilde Amivi Petitjean, a cross-country skier, and Alessia Afi Dipol, an alpine skier. According to an Aljazeera report, “Petitjean skied for France until this season and began representing Togo only after the Togolese Skiing Federation contacted her via Facebook in May. Dipol, 18, was born in Italy and has never competed on such a high-level international stage — although she did place 11th in the 2014 Slovenian national championships in giant slalom.”
Zimbabwe: This southern African country’s alpine skier is Luke Henri Steyn, a 6-foot-tall 20-year-old who was born in the nation’s capital, Harare, and moved to Switzerland, where he learned to ski at the age of 2.
“He took the year off from the University of Colorado in Boulder to try to qualify for the Sochi Games,” says Aljazeera. “In his lone World Cup appearance, in Schladming, Austria, in January 2012, he didn’t make the top 30 to qualify for a second run in slalom.”
Morocco: This North African country has kept alive its tradition of Winter Olympic Games participation by sending two alpine skiers to Sochi. They are Kenza Taziand Adam Lamhamedi.
In all, about 2,800 athletes are competing for hundreds of medals at the Sochi games. How many of the medals would come to Africa remains to be seen but it may not necessarily matter, for the joy of the Olympics is in participation – not necessarily in winning.
•Photo courtesy Reuters shows flag-bearer Mathilde Amivi Petitjean leading Togo’s contingent during the Sochi Olympics opening ceremony . . . yesterday in Russia.
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