Augustine Hwata Sports Reporter
LUKE Steyn yesterday went down in the history books as the first Zimbabwean athlete to take part in the Winter Olympics Games as he bravely participated in the men’s giant slalom event in Sochi, Russia.
Any hopes of Steyn getting a medal, were far-fetched from the onset and the athlete finished in 57th position out of the 72 skiers who completed the event.
Steyn — who was born in Zimbabwe but grew up overseas — finished some 21.26 seconds behind the gold medallist Ted Ligety of the United States who had an aggregate time of 2 min 45.29s after the two runs.
Racing in temperatures of minus two degrees Celsius, Steyn stopped the clock after 1 min 32. 20 seconds after the first ski.
He was 11.12 seconds behind heat one winner Ligerty who set the pace on 1 min 21.08 seconds.
Steyn finished a distant 61 out of the 109 athletes who participated in the first run.
On his second run, Steyn completed the distance in 1 min 34. 35 seconds and was 11.16s behind the heat’s winner Steve Missillier of France who had the fastest time of 1 min 23. 19s.
The Frenchman had finished in 10th place in the first run and later settled for the silver medal (2 min.45.29s).
Another Frenchman, Alexis Pinturault won bronze, while seven other athletes failed to finish the race.
To his credit, Steyn soldiered on.
Interestingly, Steyn was one of the only two Africans who entered the discipline which involves skiing between sets of poles spaced at a greater distance to each other than in slalom.
Adam Lamahmed of Morroco, who finished with an aggregate time of 2 min 59.23s in 47th place was the other African.
On Saturday, Steyn will once again make another ambitious bid for a medal when he takes part in the slalom but the best bet is on the ZImbabwean fighting for a place among the top 50, at least.
Zimbabwe Olympic Committee president Admire Masenda is also attending the Games, while veteran administrator Kathy Lobb is the Chef De Mission for Zimbabwe.