Skier Sive Speelman.
The man who dreamt of being South Africa’s first black Alpine skier to compete is off to the Winter Olympics in South Korea this week, but he won’t be participating as an Olympian.

Instead Sive Speelman, 22, will be technical assistant to South Africa’s lone Winter Olympian Connor Wilson, 21.

Wilson, of Joburg, has ties to KwaZulu-Natal as he attended Kearsney College in 2011, while Speelman is from rural Barkley East in the Eastern Cape.

The SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) said only two athletes qualified for the one available Alpine skiing slot at the Winter Olympics.

Wilson made the cut due to his favourable world ranking of 54, which was higher than Speelman’s ranking which was not disclosed on the Snow Sports South Africa’s website.

Speelman jetted off to the Olympic host city of Pyeongchan on Saturday while Wilson, who is in the US, will leave next week.

The Winter Olympics will run from February 9 to 25.

“It is unfortunate that South Africa was only allocated a single men’s place at the ski events this year. My teammate Sive, in particular, has inspired me to do my best since our first competition together and he continues to challenge me in every race in which we compete against one another,” said Wilson.

The two face off yearly at the SA National Championships where they always push each other to the limit.

“I am pleased that Sive will be accompanying me to South Korea, as he is a good friend. I am looking forward to being part of such a prestigious event. I am extremely proud that Sascoc placed their faith in me as an athlete.

"I hope I will reflect positively on the country through a solid performance on snow and by generating a good image for South Africa, with Sive and I as examples of people from different backgrounds coming together through their shared love of sport,” said Wilson.

Speelman said he had mixed emotions as he was missing out on participation for the second consecutive games. “At least I am being given the opportunity to go along, even though I am not competing for South Africa.

"I am sure I will learn from the experience.”

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Sunday Independent