Lone skier looks to put SA on winter sports map

Cape Town - The Winter Olympics is a dream come true for Connor Wilson who is hoping he can inspire his fellow South Africans at Pyeongchang this week.

The 21-year-old is Team SA's lone competitor, with only support from fellow Alpine skier Sive Speelman (a technical official at these Games) and chef de mission Peter Pilz to count on in South Korea.

READ: Factfile on SA's sole athlete Connor Wilson

Wilson took time out for the icy slopes for a quick update.

"The moment I received word that I would be an Olympian, I was ecstatic," he told Team SA.

"So many athletes around the world only ever dream of competing at the Olympics, and I couldn't believe that I would have the chance.

"I'm so proud to be representing South Africa, and I hope that I can make the country proud through a solid performance in my races."

On his race expectations, Wilson is realistic but also hopes the race will be more than just about him.

"Although I'm not sure how difficult the race will be, I'm hoping to place above the athletes from other developing nations. My goal is to put South Africa on the map as a serious contender in winter sports. I'll be doing both the Slalom and Giant Slalom races," he said.

"I haven't skiied at this venue and obviously snow and weather conditions always play a part in an athlete's performance. I've been training up on the mountain every day that I have been here in order to get used to the conditions."

On having Speelman on board, he says: "We know each other from Tiffindell in the Eastern Cape and have become good friends over the years. It's really nice to have him here supporting me."

Once the snow has settled on Pyeongchang, Wilson plans on just getting better and better.

"My long term ambitions are to continue developing my skills as a ski racer, and hopefully compete in future competitions such as the World Ski Championships and the next Winter Olympics. Although it's difficult to train and race while studying (veterinary science at the University of Vermont), it's a great passion of mine which I would like to continue over the next few years," said Wilson.

The Slalom on Sunday, February 18 (SA time):

First run: 03:15-05:15

Second run: 06:45-08:25

The Giant Slalom on Thursday, February 22 (SA time):

First run: 03:15-04:30

Second run: 06:45-08:25

Image: Getty