Sabriner Wanjiku Samider will be Kenya’s lone representative at the 2018 Winter Olympics set for Pyeongchang between February 9 and March 9.
Austria-based Simader qualified for the global showpiece early last year, where she will be the first female to don Kenyan colours at the snowy event and only the second after Philip Boit (1998, 2002 and 2006). “This is a dream come true for me,” said Boit, who has been one of Simader’s coaches over the years. “Being the pioneer of skiing in Kenya, I am glad that my legacy continues as Simader heads to South Korea.”
Boit will be one of the members of Simader’s contingent alongside her parents, Sarah and Josef, Reif Christian (coach), Reif Andrea Maria (physiotherapist) and Klaus Trischer (kit and equipment). “Simader is very happy. She can’t believe she will be representing the country in Korea. It is a dream come true for her.”
He observed that they are targeting at least a top 20 finish which will open the way for others including 17-year-old Switzerland-based David Mwangangi, who missed the flight to Korea by just seven points and US-based free-styler identified as George.
“Skiing is such an expensive sport and Simader has had her fair share of financial challenges after receiving numerous invitations to compete at the major European circuits, where she manages to attend some while missing others,” said Boit. “But the Austrian community has been helpful since they have seen her potential. Efforts to get support from Kenyan authorities have mostly turned unfruitful. Most don’t understand the importance of skiing but I am certain Simader will perform well in South Korea and throw a challenge to them.”
“Sending Simader to South Korea is such an expensive undertaking. You can already tell skiing is a costly event, going by the number of staff set to accompany her, with each having a specific role,” said National Olympic Committee of Kenya secretary general FK Paul.
He observed that preparations are almost complete to ensure Simader’s participation in Pyeongchang despite an expensive budget of more than Sh7m. Simader started ski training aged three after her Kenyan mother Sarah, married Austrian Josef and the now 18 year-old will be reaping the rewards by hitting the Pyengyang downhill in a months’ time. Her major breakthrough came in 2016 when she competed at the Winter Youth Olympics before making her debut at the World Cup in January 2017 and the World Ski Championships a month later.
National Olympic Committee of Kenya president Paul Tergat observed that Simader’s participation at the Winter Olympics boarders well with his call for diversification if the country is to leave a mark in the world of sport.
“Not many know about Simader but we want to offer her maximum support and to others engaged in the sport as they pursue their dreams of representing the country at major events,” said Tergat.