I am Zimbabwean says Olympic skier

Skier Luke Steyn left Zimbabwe, his country of birth, when he was just two years old, but his connection with the country has not waned at all.

Coventry has been one of Zimbabwe’s flag-bearers.
Coventry has been one of Zimbabwe’s flag-bearers.

“Though I have moved from Zimbabwe, I still feel very much connected to it. As they say, it’s in your blood, and I hope to live and work in Africa again one day,” said Steyn, 20, recently. Now based at the University of Colorado in the United States, the Alpine skier will become the first athlete ever to represent Zimbabwe in next month’s Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

Zimbabwe did not contribute to any of Steyn’s development. Although he was born in Harare, his family moved to Switzerland when he was just two years old. His father is in the mining industry, which then took them to France and, eventually, London.

He continued with European skiing academies and wound up at the University of Colorado, where he is now taking a year off to focus on skiing. To prove his continuing attachment with his homeland, Steyn said he frequently visited Africa and did all he could to keep up with its goings on. He remains a Zimbabwean at heart and local sports fans will undoubtedly celebrate his triumphs and share in his sorrows.

Even if he were to lose, the mere fact that he becomes the first Zimbabwean to participate in the Winter Olympics will always be a point of reference in history. Steyn admitted that Zimbabwe generally had little expertise in winter sports, but drew inspiration in that they had a competitive nature and that he knew the eyes of a nation would be on him next month.

“Any support from my fellow Zimbabweans is much appreciated. To be part of Zimbabwe’s history will be something rather special. At the moment, I am the only one competing for Zim, but you never know, there could be another surprise on the way!” he added

Some recognition has already come his way from the Zimbabwe Olympic Committee in recognition of Steyn’s talent and drive. The ZOC warded him a scholarship that has allowed him to take time out from University to train.

Other Zimbabwean Olympians include the swimmer Kirsty Coventry, who won medals at the 2004 Olympics in Athens and the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and sprinter Lewis Banda, who reached the semi-finals of the 400m in 2004 and 2008.

Post published in: Sport
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