Zimbabwe to Debut at Sochi Winter Olympics

By ZOC Admin August 26 2013

Zimbabwe is likely to be represented at the Winter Olympic Games of Sochi 2014 – a first for the nation. One athlete has already been short listed in the discipline of Men’s Alpine Skiing and the identification process is ongoing for elite potential candidates to the Winter Olympic Games which will be held in Sochi, Russia in February 2014. The Winter Olympic Sports programme consists of seven sporting disciplines, namely Biathlon, Bobsleigh, Curling, Ice Hockey, Luge, Skating and Skiing.

Top of the list is a young male skier Luke Henri Steyn (age 20), a young Zimbabwean who is competing on the Federation of International Skiing (FIS) circuit, where he has already achieved a good points ranking. Luke is currently training in New Zealand and using ongoing events to gain qualification points for the Games.
The FIS uses a complicated points system for qualification, which basically starts all athletes old enough to race on the FIS circuit (16 years old) on 999.99 points in 5 Alpine Skiing disciplines  – Downhill, Super-G, Giant Slalom, Slalom and Super-Combined.  The best in the world is on 0 points; there can only be one athlete on 0 points at one time. Therefore the aim of every ski racer is to work their way down to 0 points. Every race gives an athlete the chance to lower points.

Luke has trained and raced from his family base in Europe since the age of 9. In 2012 Luke joined the USCSA race team at the University Of Boulder Colorado USA,  from where he has been able to continue his training and racing career. He is now taking a year off University in an effort to achieve the required number of points to enable him to fulfil his dream and compete at the 2014 Olympics. Luke will augment his qualification chances by competing on the European circuit when it opens, nearer the end of the year. He has already qualified for Giant Slalom and is working on 4 more results required in Slalom in order to qualify. The Winter Olympic Games qualification window is open until 20 January 2014.

Following the recognition of the Zimbabwe Snow Sports Association of Zimbabwe by the Sport and Recreation Commission and its subsequent affiliation to the ZOC, preparations and logistics are well underway to ensure the participation of any qualified athlete at this global multidisciplinary event. ZOC President Admire Masenda indicated that the ZOC Board had been aware of this possible development as early as December 2012 and to this end had appointed seasoned administrator Mrs. Kathy Lobb as the Chef de Mission.

ZOC is also pleased to announce that Luke Steyn has been awarded an Olympic Scholarship effective from 1 July 2013 to February 2014. The scholarship will offer financial and technical assistance to enable him to acquire enough points to qualify for the games. The scholarship is offered to athletes who are at elite level and demonstrate the ability to qualify for the Olympic Games: the qualification criteria and standards for the award of Olympic Scholarships are drawn and directed by the International Federations and the International Olympic Committee upon receipt of an application from the National Olympic Committee. ZOC believes that that Luke has great potential to qualify for the Winter Olympics.