Issa, a young Kenyan athlete, is making a name for himself in the world of alpine skiing. Born in Alpe d’Huez, France, to a French father who worked as a ski rescue patrol and a Kenyan mother who was a childminder, skiing has been a passion for Issa from a very young age. He started racing at just five years old and won his first medal that same year.
At the age of 14, Issa was admitted to a ski specialized school with an alpine skiing option that allowed him to train every Wednesday, Friday afternoon, weekends, and during all French school holidays throughout the year. This opportunity helped him improve his skiing disciplines, and he qualified up to the finals of the Alpine Ski French Nationals in 2022.
Issa’s goal is not only to introduce skiing to African countries but also to share his inspiring story, raise the Kenyan flag, and highlight his passion for alpine skiing in places where this sport is less known. Representing Africa and his Kenyan roots at top-level races would be a fantastic adventure for him.
Kenya has made its mark in the Winter Olympics with cross-country skier Phillip Boit making appearances in 1998, 2002, and 2006. Sabrina Simader represented Kenya in alpine skiing at the 2016 Winter Youth Olympic Games and also competed in the 2017 World Championships and the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in South Korea, where a record of eight African countries were represented.
Unfortunately, Sabrina was unable to represent Kenya at the 2022 Winter Olympics in China, where Africa was represented by six athletes from five African countries. However, this year, Sabrina competed at the Alpine World Ski Championships in Courchevel Meribel 2023, where she received greater media exposure.
While the African climate is not conducive to the training of snow skiers, the motivation, physical preparation, and adaptability of African athletes are exemplary and deserve to be shared with athletes worldwide. Athletes representing African countries have contributed to the Olympic Movement’s goals of universality and inclusion. For some of them, the link with mountainous regions exists through race-mixing or their studies outside Africa.
Issa’s story serves as an inspiration to young Africans and proves that anything is possible with dedication and hard work. It is important that high-level athletes share their sport culture, life experience, and vision of sport so that the strengths of each nation benefit everyone. Issa is a rising star in alpine skiing, and we can’t wait to see what the future holds for him.
Issa Laborde Alpine Skier