- The Youth Winter Games are taking place in Lausanne, Switzerland and Africa only has two representatives at the event
- South African skiers Thabo Rateleki and Hanle van der Merwe are flying the Mzansi and African flags high at the global tournament
- Rateleki has had to overcome the odds and touched on his journey
“I’m so excited to have finished,” were the words uttered by Thabo Rateleki just as he finished the Men’s Giant Slalom in Alpine Skiing race.
The race forms part of the Youth Winter Games currently taking place in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Thabo and compatriot, Hanle van der Merwe, are the only two skiers representing the African continent at the event.
Although Thabo just turned 17 in January, it's been quite a long road to make it to this point.
Prior to the trip to Switzerland, Thabo had never flown on an air-plane before.
While many of his competitors were well-travelled and experienced various ski resorts, Thabo could only draw on his experience at Tiffindell - South Africa's only ski resort.
SA People reported that Thabo's passion for skiing all started with his older brother.
Thabo explained, "It was my brother who inspired me; I saw him racing, with people cheering for him along the track. I saw the smile on his face and it inspired me.”
Briefly.co.za learnt that Thabo is now ranked 39th on the Youth Winter Games log.
It's been an eventful tournament for Hanle van der Merwe as well.
Hanle finished the race in 37th place, but 41 other competitors were unable to reach the finish line.
Beaming with pride, Hanle said, “I’m also very proud to have represented Africa. We are the only two athletes from Africa, and we had the opportunity to take a picture with the President of the IOC during the Opening Ceremony.”
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