February 1, 2018 / 12:01 PM / 2 years ago

South Africa send lone participant to Winter Olympics

The Olympic rings are pictured at the Alpensia resort for the upcoming 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, January 23, 2018. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch/Files

CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - South Africa named Alpine skier Connor Wilson as the only athlete to travel to this month’s Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

It means no place on the slopes for Sive Speelman, who had hoped to become the first black skier from the country to take part in the Olympics.

The country has been allocated one entry into the Alpine skiing competition by the International Olympic Committee and as both Speelman and Wilson qualified, the latter was chosen due to his higher International Ski Federation (FIS) rankings.

Wilson, 21, was ranked 54th in the giant slalom and 71st in the slalom event at the end of 2017.

Speelman also missed out on competing at the 2014 Sochi Games despite qualifying as the country’s Olympic committee declined to send a team.

However, he has been selected to act as a “technical official” to the team in Pyeongchang, a statement from the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) said.

“Coming from a dry country like South Africa with extremely limited winter sport conditions, our teams to winter sports have traditionally always been small,” SASCOC president Gideon Sam said.

“But, as we do in all our myriad sports, snow sports are still an important part of the sporting family. We wish Connor all the best and I’m also sure that Sive Speelman is going to gain a wealth of experience during his time in South Korea.”

Snow Sports South Africa has been trying to grow its footprint among the mainstream sports in the country and last year held Alpine ski events on the FIS tour that attracted over 80 international competitors from 18 different countries.

Reporting By Nick Said, editing by Pritha Sarkar

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