Philip Boit, a Kenyan cross country skier, was dealt a heart-wrenching blow, when the International Ski Federation and the International Olympic Committee refused to allow him to compete in Vancouver because he had too many qualifying points.
In simple terms, under the Olympic qualifying process, the further a skier’s time is away from the winning time of a race, the more points he or she receives. In order to qualify to compete, Boit needed to have 300 points or less (officials recently reduced the total down from 500). His point total was 302.
Although he traveled to Vancouver in hopes that an appeal filed by his country would be granted and he could end his skiing career in grand style, the appeal was denied.
Boit, who transferred into skiing after running cross country for his nation and made history in 1998, when he became the first Kenyan winter games athlete, began training for the sport in 1996 with the help of Nike.
The athletic apparel giant initially financed the training of Boit and countryman Henry Bitok in Finland but then abandoned the project three years later. But Boit, who competed in the Nagano, Japan, games in 1998, the 2002 games in Salt Lake City, Utah, and the 2006 Olympics in Italy, was determined to increase the participation of Africans like himself in winter sports. He continued training by fundraising, occasionally selling his cows and practicing on dry land in his sun-drenched homeland.
At 38, Boit–a farmer by occupation, who struggled and relied on family and friends in Kenya and the United States to raise the money to train and travel to amass the required qualifying points –will now have to end his skiing career at another world championship competition.