African Nations Rising in Winter Olympics – What are the Odds?


Africa is one of the hottest continents on earth, hence winter sports including bobsleigh, snowboarding, and skiing are not part of African sports due to its climatic conditions. However, the continent of Africa through some hero has risen to prove the world wrong by qualifying and actively participating in winter sports. Despite the growing disadvantage of African nations to take part in winter Olympics, a number of nations, namely; Madagascar, South Africa, Togo, Morocco, Kenya, Nigeria, Eritrea, and Ghana represented the continent in winter sports in PyeongChang 2018, it was a history-making moment. The year 2018 was a turning point and history-making time not only to witness the winter Olympics but also to see a number of African nations flying their flags before the start of the event. From 1960 when the first African country participated in the game, at least one country every year have been representing the continent, however, 2018 was a game changer to see eight African nations in the game (Winter Olympics 2018).

From the fact that PyeongChang games hosted the first ever largest number of African nations, with eight nations participating in a single Winter Olympics, no single African athlete managed a podium finish. While Nigeria and Eritrea made their performance at the games and battled alongside Togo, South Africa, Ghana, Morocco, Madagascar, and Kenya. Besides Africa dreaming big in these particular games, the fact that the continent does not have ice or snow weather condition was still an obvious challenge to achieve the dream (Ramgopal, 2018). In particular, it was evident that Africa participation in PyeongChang was predominantly steered by diaspora population, ‘nearly all the Africans who completed the winter Olympics were either raised or born outside Africa. Another challenge that is crystal clear is lack of government commitment and involvement in creating training programs for the athletes. In fact, some of them are forced to create a national federation by themselves for the winter sports, thereby the odds are being stacked against athletes from the African taking part in the winter Olympics.

While the African participants did not record history to emerge the first Africans to win the Winter Olympics medal, several Africans athletes made a good history nonetheless. Akwasi Frimpong made history as the first Ghanaian to successfully complete the game (Labrecque, 2018). Nigeria’s bobsled team was the first Africans to take part in the games. Adeagbo recorded a pretty history as the first Nigerian woman to take part in the games. While Militiaman and simader were the Madagascar and Kenya first women to represent the two nations respectively. While Maame Biney a Ghanaian by origin have recently risen to be the darling of America in speed skating.

The winter games heavily dominated in Europe and North America where they hosted 32 and 12 editions respectively. In addition, 2 editions have been hosted in Oceania while seven games Hosted in Asia. However, with the growing determination and tireless motivation from Africa nation, for the first time, the Summer Youth Olympics will be held in Dakar in the year 2022, becoming the first ever to be held in Africa.