The 2018 Winter Olympic Games are well underway, and so far it has been fun, fast and exciting.
Exceeding everyone’s expectations, South Korea have really placed themselves in the top league of host countries. Hosted in Pyeongchang, South Korea, it is the first time that the Winter Olympics have been hosted here. The Summer Olympics was hosted by South Korea in 1988.
It might be a bit hard to imagine a group of athletes competing in the snow, while we are enjoying our sunshine and humidity, but there really is a sport for every taste.
With 92 nations competing, there are a staggering 2920 athletes fighting for medals. There are 102 events spanning across 15 different sporting games – making it a really inclusive winter event.
President Moon Jae-in opened the ceremony on 9 February, and the event is set to end on 25 February.
There have been some new sports added to this year’s roster. These are big air snowboarding, mass start speed skating, mixed doubles curling and mixed team alpine skiing. All are great additions that bring more variety to the event.
There are also a few countries making their debut at this year’s Winter Olympics. These include the likes of Ecuador, Eritrea, Kosovo, Malaysia, Nigeria and Singapore.
Now – this is where things get interesting.
Have you seen the Nigerian female bobsled team? They must be the coolest looking winter athletes out there. They are representing Nigeria in the female bobsledding event, and are the first African team to ever compete in female bobsledding at the Winter Olympics.
The trio is made up of Seun Adigun, Ngozi Onwumere and Akuoma Omeoga. Adigun was a part of the American Bobsled team since 2015, and decided to head up a Nigerian bobsled team after learning that no African country had never had any athletes compete in a Winter Olympics bobsled event.
It is a story that is so reminiscent of Cool Runnings – Neither of the team had touched a bobsled before 2016!
They are the perfect underdogs, and show that with anything, hard work and determination can really create wonders. They are showing Africans that if you put your mind to something, even something as strange as bobsledding in the Winter Olympics when coming from a hot, dry country, anything is possible. These ladies great role models for budding athletes, and look formidable in their team photos. Other bobsledding teams – beware!
There are currently 15 events being held during the 2018 Winter Olympics. These all have various numbers of medal events in each. The great variety of sports on show means that more and more athletes have the chance of taking part, and spectators have a wide range of events to watch and support.
Alpine Skiing – 11 medal events
Biathlon – 11 medal events
Bobsleigh – 3 medal events
Cross-country skiing – 12 medal events
Curling – 3 medal events
Figure skating – 5 medal events
Freestyle skiing – 10 medal events
Ice hockey – 2 medal events
Luge – 4 medal events
Nordic combined – 3 medal events
Short track speed skating – 8 medal events
Skeleton – 2 medal events
Ski jumping – 4 medal events
Snowboarding – 10 medal events
Speed skating – 14 medal events
South Africa at the 2018 Winter Olympics
South Africa is finally getting back into the Winter Olympics swing of things. We missed out on the 2014 Winter Olympics as we had no qualifying athletes. This year however, we have one athlete participating in one event. Connor Wilson from Johannesburg is a South African Alpine Skier. At the tender age of 21, he is making his country proud by being a competitor in this event.
He qualified alongside Sive Speelman on 1 February 2018 but only one athlete was chosen to compete. Wilson was chosen as he has a higher FIS ranking. He will however be accompanied by Sive Speelman, who happens to be his coach, and other coach Peter Pils, as he competes in the Men’s Giant Slalom and Men’s Slalom events. Wilson was the official flag holder for South Africa during the 2018 opening.
Our eyes are on this young competitor, and we wish him the best of luck in his events. Even if he doesn’t place, it is a proud moment for him to be competing with the world’s best.
2018 Winter Paralympics
The 2018 Winter Paralympics will also be held in Pyeongchang, South Korea. It will take place between 9 – 18 March.
There are 42 nations participating, totalling over 550 athletes involved. With over 80 events ranging across 5 sports, it is set to be just as exciting as the Winter Olympics.
The sporting events this year have all been announced. Snowboarding has expanded to 10 medal events, whereas it only had 2 in the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Alpine skiing – 30 medal events
Biathlon – 18 medal events
Cross-country skiing – 20 medal events
Ice sledge hockey – 1 medal event
Snowboarding – 10 medal events
Wheelchair curling – 1 medal event
Russia is currently banned from participating in the 2018 Winter Olympics due to a state-sponsored doping program, but the athletes wishing to participate are allowed to enter in as neutral participants. 35 athletes are attending the event as neutral participants this year.
We are lucky enough to enjoy the easy part. Sitting back in our nice, sunny climate enjoying the games from afar. Having a Winter Olympics and Winter Paralympics is a great way for the world to join together and appreciate the sports that we aren’t so accustomed to, and marvel at the athletes and their abilities.
You never know, you might end up finding a new favourite sports watching the games, and end up competing as a country first event, just like the amazing female Nigerian bobsled team!
It is up to us to support and encourage our athletes competing – whether it is the long South African skier, or any other African entrant.