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Sive off to Games

Eastern Cape teenager Sive Speelman will represent South Africa at the Inaugural Winter Youth Olympic Games in Innsbruck, Austria, next year.

Officially known as the I Winter Youth Olympic Games (YOG), the event is an international multi-sport event for youths and will take place from 13-22 January 2012 and the youngster will fly the South African flag in the alpine skiing discipline.

The 16 year-old, who is the first black South African athlete at Winter Olympics, learnt how to ski at the tender age of eight, and got into ski racing under the guidance of triple Olympian skier, Alex Heath.

Speelman, who came from a disadvantaged background, joined the Snow Sports Development Programs and is a member of the Ikhephu Ski Pups, a local ski club based at his home town, Barkly East.

ÔÇ£We are proud to have an athlete like Sive coming through the ranks of our local development programsÔÇØ, said Peter Pilz, President of Snow Sports SA and Chef de Mission for this event. ÔÇ£He has shown much talent, dedication and success to represent South Africa at these 2012 Youth Olympic GamesÔÇØ

The teen was one of three South African athletes who attended the Dream Programme in 2007 in Korea. Among his accolades are SA Junior champion and winning both Alpine disciples, Slalom (SL) and Giant Slalom (GS) at the SA National Alpine Ski Championships, held annually at Afriski Ski & Mountain Resort in Lesotho. He’ll also be hoping to participate in the 2014 Olympic Games to be held in Sochi, Russia.

Speelman is busy preparing for his trip to Austria, and the Snow Sports committee is hopeful he will bring a medal home and introduce the sport to a much larger audience. He will be accompanied by the Chef de Mission, Project Manager Chantelle Jardim and coach, Heath

Approximately 1100 athletes from over 60 countries are expected to compete. The decision that Innsbruck should host the Games was announced on 12 December 2008 after mail voting by 105 International Olympic Committee (IOC) members. Innsbruck will become the first city to host three Olympic events, having previously hosted the 1964 Winter Olympics and the 1976 Winter Olympics