Teen Makes History as Africa’s First Cross-Country Skier at Winter Youth Olympic Games


January 30, 2024

She made history at the Winter Youth Olympic Games!

In a historic moment at the Winter Youth Olympic Games on January 29th, 16-year-old Ashley Tshanda Ongong’a, hailing from Kenya, etched her name in the books of winter sports history. The young athlete became the first cross-country skier from her nation to qualify for the prestigious event held at the Alpensia Biathlon Centre, Olympics.com reports. Her participation at Gangwon 2024 marks a personal achievement, a feat for Kenya, and cause of pride for the entire continent.

Ongong’a drew inspiration from the trailblazing journey of Philip Boit, the first Kenyan to compete at the Winter Olympic Games in Nagano 1998. Boit’s legacy has paved the way for Ongong’a to make her mark on the international stage.

As she prepared for this momentous event, Ongong’a spoke from Modena, expressing the weight of the responsibility she feels. “It’s a big responsibility because I know now so many Africans know about me,” she shared with Olympics.com. “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 January 29th, Ongong’a displayed her skill and determination, ranking 63rd and 62nd, respectively.

Cover Photo: Ashley Tshanda Ongong’a etched her name in the books of winter sports history. / Credit: Kenyan National Olympic Committee


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