16-Year-Old Girl Makes History As First African Cross-Country Skier To Participate In The Winter Youth Olympics Games

by Gee NY
Ashley Tshanda Ongong’a. Image Credit: @ashleytshandaongonga on IG

At the Winter Youth Olympic Games on Jan. 29, 16-year-old Ashley Tshanda Ongong’a etched her name in history as the first cross-country skier from Kenya to qualify for the prestigious event.

Her participation at Gangwon 2024 stands as a significant milestone, for herself, her nation and the entire African continent.

Ongong’a’s remarkable journey is deeply intertwined with the trailblazing legacy of Philip Boit, the pioneer who became the first Kenyan to compete at the Winter Olympic Games in Nagano in 1998.

Inspired by Boit’s groundbreaking achievements, Ongong’a seized the opportunity to follow in his footsteps and make her mark in the world of winter sports.

Speaking from Modena as she prepared for the event, Ongong’a expressed the profound sense of responsibility she carries.

“It’s a big responsibility because I know now so many Africans know about me,” she shared. “I really hope that [after seeing me] many other young people can see it as an amazing opportunity to try skiing. Because I think it’s time for Africa to fully come into winter sport.”

In the Women’s 7.5km Classic and Women’s Sprint Free events on Jan. 29, Ongong’a showcased her skill and determination, securing the 63rd and 62nd positions, respectively.

Her presence on the international stage signifies a personal triumph and serves as a boost for the growth of winter sports in Africa.

By inspiring future generations to embrace skiing, Ongong’a is contributing to the diversification of the global sporting landscape, paving the way for more African athletes to shine on the snow-covered slopes of the world.

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