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Kenya’s sole Winter Olympics participant finishes 59th

Rodgers Ndegwa and Agencies @peoplesport11

Kenya’s sole representative to the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea Sabrina Simader Wanjiku is hopeful of a better performance in tomorrow’s second event after the alpine skier finished 59th in the Women’s Giant Slalom yesterday.

Wanjiku, 19, who is making her debut at the games, clocked 1:23.27 in the event where 67 out of 81 skiers finished. Urged by a sizable number of Kenyans in South Korea including National Olympics Committee of Kenya (NOC-K) president Paul Tergat, his predecessor athletics legend Kipchoge Keino, Kenyan ambassador to South Korea Mohamed Gello and his Rwandan counterpart Emma Isumbingabo, Wanjiku seemed to enjoy the adventure in the freezing temperatures of the Asian nation.

The Austria-based skier, who started number 67 which is based on ranking by start of Olympics, was number 59 at first round, during which six athletes fell. In her second round, she fell at the turn of one of the “bridges” ending up with some bruises.

“This is a commendable performance for a debutant at a major Olympics event in a sport of this nature. I am very proud of her performance and impressed with her spirits,” said Tergat.

Her next event, the Women’s Super Giant Slalom will take place at 5am tomorrow and she is optimistic of a better performance. “I am happy with my start although it was tough under these conditions.

I have gained more experience and confidence and God willing, will do even better in two days time,” said Wanjiku after the race. Her sentiments were echoed by her coach, Christian and Chef de Mission, Philip Boit.

“She has a huge potential and future. She was right there with the best, separated by just over 10 seconds by the winner,” said Boit. Manuela Moelgg of Italy won the competition in a time of 1:10.62 with second position going to American Mikaela Shiffrin (1:10.82).

Wanjiku’s journey to the 2018 Games started when she was just three as her stepfather Josef, who owned a ski lift, took her out on the slopes of Austria, acting as her trainer until she learnt what she needed to know.

She qualified for the games after competing in the World Championships last February, making her the second Kenyan after Boit at the Winter Games.

Boit came in last in the 10km at the 1998 Nagano Games, but beat five people in Salt Lake City in 2002 be- fore bettering nine at Tori- no 2006. His plans for 2010 Vancouver Games were scuppered by malaria.