By Ben Ochieng NAIROBI (Xinhua) --
Kenya’s Olympic officials said Monday plans have
been finalized to send the country’s first female athlete to the
Winter Olympic Games.
Simader, 19, will be Kenya’s sole representative at the Winter
Olympics scheduled for Feb. 9-25 in PyeongChang, South Korea.
Paul Tergat, the
President of the National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOCK),
said the country acknowledged Simader’s enthusiasm to compete at
the highest level of competition.
“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,” Tergat
told Xinhua during an interview.
“Medals are in the
so-called fringe sports. Kenyans can recall from previous
Olympic experience that by the time track and field events
start, some countries are always way ahead of others with over
50 medals courtesy of the peripheral sports like swimming and
archery,” the former world marathon record holder remarked.
“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. However, all this needs funding because
one cannot flourish in sports without financial support,” Tergat
He called upon those
parents who live and work in countries with chilly conditions to
emulate Simader and encourage their children to take up winter
“It is more
expensive to send one athlete, like in the case of Simader, to
the Olympics because she will require the same number of support
personnel like coach, manager, physiotherapist, aide and other
staff, than a contingent comprising of many athletes,” Tergat
Francis Paul, NOCK
Secretary General, said Simader has been fully sponsored by the
organisation to represent the East African nation at the
“We have done all
that it pertains for her to take part in the Olympics, like
catering for her kit, equipment, accreditation, travelling bills
and all other aspects of competition,” Paul said.
Simader, who was
born in Kenya and raised in Austria, will become Kenya’s second
ever athlete to compete at the Winter Olympics after Philip Boit
achieved the debut feat subsequent to securing a place to
represent Kenya in the 10km cross country event at the 1998
who competed in two subsequent Winter Olympics later at the 2002
Salt Lake Winter Olympics and 2006 Torino Winter Olympics, has
been appointed by NOCK as Simader’s manager at the games.
“Boit will travel
from Kenya whereas Simader will jet out from Switzerland to
PyeongChang where the two will meet,” Paul said.
Whilst skiers from
African nations are usually looked at as novelty at the Winter
Olympics, the teenager competes in the more challenging and
dangerous speed disciplines; Downhill and Super G whereas racers
from outside Alpine skiing nations do not venture beyond the
less risky slalom events.
“I am Kenyan, which
makes me exotic. Some people think I cannot ski well. I want to
give a good performance that will help me to become a
professional skier,” she said during an earlier interview.