Even the most casual viewers of the Olympic Games know that Kenyan athletes often excel in long-distance running events that require stamina, personal dedication, and competitive intensity. But could they duplicate those feats on ice? Sixteen men are in training at the Panari Hotel in Nairobi, which has the only ice rink in the country (and all of East and Central Africa, for that matter). They are working hard to form Kenya’s first-ever national ice hockey team, and they hope to qualify for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, China. Primarily using equipment donated by teams from traditional ice hockey powerhouses such as Canada and Russia, the Kenyan athletes are working towards making their Olympic dream come true. “Six years ago, people were laughing at us," said team captain Benard Azegere. “We believe in ourselves. We can get there.”
A new goal for Kenyan athletes:
- Quite a few nations with tropical climates have participated in the Winter Olympics, but none has ever won a medal. The first to compete was the Philippines, which sent two alpine skiers to the 1972 Sapporo Games.
- In 1988, a large number of tropical nations sent athletes to the Games, including the memorable Jamaican bobsled team of Cool Runnings fame. In 2006 and 2010, Jamaican-born bobsledder Lascelles Brown won silver and bronze medals, respectively, while representing Canada.
- Kenyans have competed in the Winter Olympics before. From 1998 to 2006, former middle-distance runner Philip Boit represented his country in cross-country skiing. And in 2018, Kenya's first female Winter Olympian, alpine skier Sabrina Simader, competed in the women's giant slalom and super-G events.