Brief bios of all the African athletes competing at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.
The 2018 Winter Olympic Games are well underway in Pyeongchang and for this year, there are more African countries than ever before.
Out of the 54 countries in Africa, only 13 had previously sent representatives to the Games but with the new debutants, it’s now up to 15.
The Winter Olympics are not well followed in Africa with most of the continent being in the tropical zones.
Nigeria (Women’s Bobsled and Skeleton)
Nigeria will be making their debut at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang with four athletes Seun Adigun, Ngozi Onwumere, Akuoma Omeoga and Simidele Adeagbo.
Seun, Ngozi and Omeoga are Bobsled athletes while Simidele will be competing in Skeleton.
Seun Adigun (Bobsled)
Based in America just like her two other teammates, Adigun was born in Chicago, Illinois where she grew up.
She started out as was a field athlete and represented Nigeria in the 100 metres hurdles. She won a medal for Nigeria at the 2010 African Athletics Championship in Nairobi.
She also competed at the 2011 International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Championships in Daegu and the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
The 31-year-old who is the driver of the team is credited to be the founder of the Nigeria bobsled team after she retired from track and field.
She tried out for the USA Bobsled team and made it and by this time her enthusiasm for the sport grew. In November 2016, she started the Bobsled and Skeleton Federation of Nigeria.
She also has a dual degree, a Doctorate of Chiropractic and a Masters of Science in Sports Science.
Ngozi Onwumere (Bobsled)
Ngozi Onwumere who is a brakeman in the team was born in Mesquite, Texas. Before she was introduced to bobsled, Onwumere was already a sprinter who specialises in the 100 metres, 200 metres, 400 metres and 4 x 100 metres relay.
She won a gold medal for Nigeria in the 4 x 100 metres relay at the 2015 All-Africa Games in Brazzaville, Congo. She also competed at the 2015 IAAF World Relays in Nassau, Bahamas.
The 26-year-old has a University degree from the University of Houston where she was first recruited to the school’s Track and Field programme as a sprinter and jumper back in 2009 by Seun.
Akuoma Omeoga (Bobsled)
Omeoga was born in St. Paul Minnesota-born to parents from Abia State and the youngest of four girls.
Her journey into sports started at the University of Minnesota where she was recruited to the school’s Track and Field programme.
She was introduced to bobsled by Seun after they met through a mutual friend at a BBQ restaurant.
Simidele Adeagbo (Skeleton)
Born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada Simidele Adeagbo was a triple jumper and last competed in 2008. Simi is a four-time finalist in the triple jump at the All American National Collegiate Athletic.
The 36-year-old was inspired by the story of Seun, Ngozi and Akuoma and attended a draft organised by the Bobsled and Skeleton Federation of Nigeria in Texas.
She could not make it in Bobsled but ended up in Skeleton.
Togo (Women’s Alpine Skiing and Cross-Country Skiing)
Togo made their debut at the Winter Olympics in 2014 in Sochi Russia and have two athletes at Pyeongchang.
Alessia Afi Dipol-(Alpine Skiing)
Born in Italy in 1995, Alessia Afi Dipol also competed for Togo at the 2014 Winter Olympics in the slalom and giant slalom.
She first competed for India between 2012 and 2013 before switching her allegiance to Togo.
Although she has no familial connections to Togo, her father owns a clothing factory in the West African country. She switched her allegiance so she could qualify to compete at the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Mathilde-Amivi Petitjean (Cross-Country Skiing)
Born in Kpalimé, Togo, on February 19, 1994, Petitjean moved with his family to France when he was just four.
She went for her first cross-country skiing with her school when she was seven and fell in love with it. She made the France junior team and represented them until 2013.
She was contacted by the Togolese Skiing Federation via Facebook and then switched her alliances to her country of birth.
Petitjean became Togo’s first ever cross-country skier and made was one of the two athletes that debuted Togo at the Winter Olympics.
Ghana- Skeleton (Men’s)
Like Nigeria, Ghana are also making their debut at the Winter Olympics with Skeleton athlete Akwasi Frimpong.
Akwasi Frimpong (Skeleton)
Born in Ghana, Frimpong moved to the Netherlands at the age of eight to join his mother. Initially a sprinter, Frimpong started running when he was 15 and was once a 200m champion at the Dutch Athletics Junior Championships.
He overcame a terrible injury to continue having a very promising career in sprint and continued to attain successes in the United States where he was on athletic scholarship at Utah Valley University.
After another injury, he switched to Bobsled and represent the Netherlands at the 2013 World Cup Race in Park City in a two-man bob team.
He switched to Skeleton in 2016 returned to Ghana to form Ghana’s National Bobsled and Skeleton Federation (BSF-Ghana).
Kenya (Women’s Alpine Skiing)
Kenya first made an appearance at the Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan and since then, they have been represented at the 2002 and 2006 editions. In 2016, Kenya competed at the 2016 Winter Youth Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway.
For their third appearance at the Winter Olympics, Kenya are being represented by Sabrina Wanjiku Simader.
Sabrina Wanjiku Simader (Alpine Skiing)
Simader had represented Kenya at the 2016 Youth Winter Olympics and makes her debut at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.
Born in Kenya, she was moved to Austria when she was three years old. Her mom is Kenyan while her dad is Austrian.
Simader’s father owned a ski lift and took Simader to the ski slopes. She was trained by her father.
She is the first and alpine skier to compete for Kenya at the Winter Olympics.
South Africa (Men’s Alpine Skiing)
Unlike the tropical African countries, South Africa have winter seasons which has given them the means to be competing in the Winter Olympics since 1990.
Since their debut in the 1960 games, South Africa have competed at four other editions (1998, 2002, 2006 and 2010).
For 2018 Winter Olympics, they have one athlete representing them.
Connor Wilson (Alpine Skiing)
Born in 1996, Wilson first skied at the age of five. In 2013, he entered his first official FIS (International Ski Federation) race and was a national junior champion in 2014 and national men’s champion in 2016 and 2017
He represented South Africa at the 2017 World Ski Championships in St Moritz, Switzerland.
A certified scuba rescue diver and helicopter pilot, the 21-year-old currently studying for a veterinary science degree at the University of Vermont in the United States.
He was the flag bearer for South Africa in the 2018 Winter Olympics Parade of Nations.
Eritrea (Men’s Alpine Skiing)
Another debutant at the Winter Olympics, Eritrea have one representative in Pyeongchang 2018.
Shannon-Ogbani Abeda (Alpine Skiing)
Shannon-Ogbani Abeda was born in the Canadian province of Alberta to Eritrean parents, Ariam and Walday who had fled Eritrea during the Eritrean War of Independence.
Born in 1996, Abeda grew up in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains, a breeding ground for ski enthusiasts.
He, however, started out in Ice Hockey before switching to skiing. He competed for Eritrea in the first-ever Winter Youth Olympic Games in 2012. She, however, failed to secure qualification to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
Morocco (Men’s Cross-Country Skiing and Alpine Skiing)
Morocco has also participated in the Winter Olympic Games on six occasions since 1968. For the 2018 Winter Olympics, they have two representatives.
Adam Lamhamedi (Alpine Skiing)
Born in Canada in 1995 to a Moroccan father and Canadian mother, Adam Lamhamedi began skiing in childhood and won his first competition when he just eight.
He has competed on the Fis circuit since 2010 and switched his allegiance to Morocco in 2011.
The 22-year-old competed for Morocco at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
He won a gold medal for Morocco at the inaugural Winter Youth Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria to become the first-ever African to win a medal at Winter Olympics of any type.
Lamhamedi and his brother Sami, both qualified to compete at the games, however only one can compete.
Samir Azzimani (Cross-country skiing)
Moroccan-French Samir Azzimani competed for Morocco in the 2010 Winter Olympics.
He also represented Morocco at the 2015 Nordic Ski World Championships in Falun, Sweden.
The 40-year-old was born and brought in Colombes, in the northwestern suburbs of Paris, France.
Madagascar (Women’s Alpine Skiing)
This is a second time outing for Madagascar who first competed at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy.
They have one athlete in Pyeongchang 2018.
Mialitiana Clerc (Alpine Skiing)
Born in 2001, Clerc was born in Madagascar and was adopted by a French family at the age of one. She learned to ski in France.
The 16-year-old will be the first woman to compete for Madagascar at the Winter Olympics.
Source: Pulse. Ng