Making it to the Winter Olympics is already a victory for African athletes

Dylan Bettencourt

The Winter Olympics is not often associated with anything African – and rightfully so. The history of participation by African athletes at the games is brief and there are no medals to show for it.

Eight African athletes, the most at any games, were at the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea. This year’s games saw that number drop to six.

Africans tend to dominate the track events at the Summer Olympics winning over 400 medals at the games since 1908 but the Winter Olympics have not produced a single medal for Africa.

It would take some doing for an African to win a medal at the Winter Olympics.

The continent of Africa has an average temperature of around 25.7 degrees celsius, leaving very little opportunity to train effectively. Most of the Africans who have competed at the games left the continent at a young age to live in the northern parts of the world.

Between 1960 to 2022 only 15 countries have competed at the Winter Olympics, and only seven of those have participated in more than one of the games.


Alpine skier Mialitania Clerc from Madagascar competed at three games, in 2006, 2018 and 2022 and she is the only African woman to have participated at the games.

French-born Nigerian Samuel Ikpefan made history when he became the first male from the country to compete at the games. The Nigerian finished 73rd out of 88 participants in the men’s spring free cross-country skiing event on Tuesday.

While Africa may not enjoy much success at the games, it remains important that Africans make themselves present at the event for matters of inclusion and representation in a space dominated by the northern hemisphere.

Image source: @BBC

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