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OLYMPIC REVIEW57 OLYMPIC SOLIDARITY WINTERCRUSADER Philip Boit caught the world's attention at the 1998 Olympic Winter Games at Nagano. He was Kenya's first Winter Olympian and the public was mesmerised by the fact he had first strapped on a pair of skis only two years previously. David Cord of the Helsinki Times travelled to his training camp in Finland to meet him: Boit struggled home last in the 10km cross- country and the winner, Bjørn Dæhlie of Norway, was so inspired by Boit's determination that he refused to accept his medal until Boit finished the race. That experience was so moving for Boit that he would later name one of his sons Dæhlie. Boit has no plans on hanging up his skis just yet. He is now back in Finland, training for the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver. Kenya isn't known for its winter sports. How did you get started in skiing? It was in February 1996 that I started, so it has been more than ten years now. At the time we were sponsored by a sportswear company which suggested that we try winter sports. I was a middle distance runner but switched sports for the Winter Games. I was the first Kenyan to compete in the Olympic Winter Games. The first time I saw snow was when I arrived in Finland to start training! My first experiences were very difficult. I couldn't handle the skis at all and when I tried to stand, I would fall over. I spent a lot of time lying in the snow, freezing cold. I was in a lot of pain and I remember thinking if this goes on forever I might quit skiing. And now you've been to three Olympic Winter Games and are training for your fourth. How is your training going? I have a great coach and really enjoy training. I train for about two and a half hours outside every day and alternate the style of training. For instance, today was classic style; tomorrow will be skating style. When I am in Kenya of course I have to train differently because we don't have snow. There I run and go to the gym to work on my endurance. Sometimes I walk with poles or roller- skate. At the Games in Nagano, Salt Lake City and Turin I did the sprints and the 10- kilometre classic, and in Vancouver I will compete in the same events. How are you supported for your training? I am being assisted by the Kenya NOC. They receive Solidarity Scholarship funds from the IOC in order to help me. Olympic Solidarity assists NOCs all over the world. So the IOC dips into their pockets and my own NOC also helps out. This provides me with tremendous support. PHILIP BOIT