The President of the National Olympic Committee of Kenya Paul Tergat has paid a glowing tribute to Kenya’s only participant in the World Ski Championship Sabrina Wanjiku Simader.
The event is currently taking place in Cortina, Italy.
After having numerous interviews with the leading sports media houses in Europe, Tergat stated 22-year-old Sabrina is a great sports ambassador for Kenya.
“The kind of media interest and following she has drawn in this event can only be matched by the same following she got when she competed in the Winter Olympics in South Korea in 2018,” Tergat said.
‘’She is certainly someone who is making our country be known around the world. Having been recognised and appointed in 2018 as a UN environment ambassador as well, it greatly underscores the often-stated fact that Kenya’s sportspeople are the biggest assets of promoting the country.’
‘’With the COVID-19 pandemic having hit the country in terms of tourists, it is gratifying to note that one Kenyan is causing a lot of excitement in this part of the world. We all know that Kenya hosts very many Italians and Sabrina’s participation in this championship has strongly reinforced that awareness.’’
The President also revealed that Sabrina’s name was asked by anyone interested in knowing about Kenya’s participation in the Ski championship.
“I have toured the city of Cortina this morning and after every few steps someone is interested in knowing about Kenya’s participation in the Ski championship and Sabrina is a name everyone is easily associating with,” he said.
Tergat further revealed that the National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOCK) shall continue supporting her and hopes her return to the competition now soon after recovering from an injury in October will give her the platform to continue her effective preparation for the Winter Olympics scheduled for Beijing next year.
‘’At only 22 years old, she has competed in numerous events and excelled. She was the sole flagbearer in the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea in 2018 and before that the Youth Winter Olympics, Lillehammer 2016 where she finished top 25 in all her events. She was first placed at the Slovenia Super-G championships in 2019 and took first place at the International African World Championships in 2019.
‘’We are also happy to note that we have gotten a lot of interest from other Kenyans participating in winter sports and welcome them to intensify their training so that they can represent Kenya in more international events. Of immediate interest, a young man, Dennis Ondiba, who is a cross country skiing athlete based in Czech Republic, and will be participating in the qualifiers of the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships coming up later in the month. We’ll keep Kenyans informed in the coming days about these events, in the hope that these athletes going against the odds will inspire even more to come up.’’
He also acknowledged that Kenya is very well known for running but at this time, the country shall start being known as an African country that participates in Winter sports.
Kenya has participated in Winter sports before, albeit in cross-country skiing.
Philip Boit, previously Kenya’s only Winter Olympic athlete, managed to fly our flag in three Winter Olympic Games, Nagano 1998, Salt Lake City 2002 and Turin 2006.
He continues to mentor younger athletes and was the Chef-De-Mission of Pyeongchang 2018 which Sabrina participated in.
With Tokyo Olympic Games coming up in a few months, the successful organisation of Cortina 2021 gives a positive signal for the entire world that sport is the tool to unite the world and give hope against adversity. Italy, in particular, the town of Cortina and the Veneto region are reported among the earliest and hardest hit by the COVID-19 outbreak.
The country and the organisers have done everything possible to get through the pandemic and with strict covid requirements and restrictions have pulled off the event successfully.
The International Olympic Committee and the Organising Committee are also setting up technical systems to ensure that the Tokyo Olympics are organised with the biggest priority being the health and safety of athletes and the population of Japan.