Sabrina Simader, a 19-year-old born in Kenya and reportedly raised in Austria since age 3, will become the second athlete from any sport from the African nation to compete in a Winter Olympics.
Simader confirmed via email that she is entered to fill Kenya’s single Alpine skiing quota spot for PyeongChang.
“My roots are Kenyan, but I have the Austrian mentality,” Simader said, according to Reuters. “I didn’t live there, but I’m very proud of my Kenyan roots. I’m looking forward to representing Kenya enormously. The Olympics have been my dream since I was small.”
Simader made her World Cup debut last January, believed to be the first Kenyan to race on the world’s top circuit. She also raced at the world championships with a best finish of 39th.
“Simader’s zeal to compete in PyeongChang is a wake-up call to Kenyans to diversify to additional Olympic sports other than track and field,” Paul Tergat, the Kenya Olympic Committee president and former marathon world-record holder, said, according to Xinhua News Agency. “Kenya is a sporting nation, and there is need to grow other disciplines so that athletes can compete in other marginal sports outside our traditional stronghold.”
The first Kenyan Winter Olympian was cross-country skier Philip Boit, who competed in 1998, 2002 and 2006 with a best finish of 64th and will accompany Simader in PyeongChang, according to Xinhua.
In 1998, Boit was last of 92 skiers in the 10km event. Gold medalist Bjorn Daehlie waited at the finish line for Boit, who crossed more than 20 minutes after the Norwegian legend.