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Meet Samuel Ikpefan, Nigeria's Cross-Country Skier at Winter Olympics


Samuel Uduigowme Ikpefan of Nigeria is seen in action during the 2022 Beijing Olympics, at the National Cross-Country Centre, Zhangjiakou, China, Feb. 8, 2022.

Nigeria is making its debut in cross-country skiing at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics.

Samuel Ikpefan is representing Africa's most populous nation, though he holds French citizenship as well.

On Monday, Ikpefan took to Instagram in a green headscarf with the flag of Nigeria in green and white on the front, saying "I am looking forward to giving the best of myself."

"With the food or the music, I have always been immersed in the Nigerian culture," the 29-year-old told the official Olympics website.

The former French youth sprint champion, who grew up in Annemasse in the French Alps, said skiing for Nigeria helps him make a stronger connection to his father's country.

He said he hopes to motivate younger Nigerians to become skiers, adding that his Olympic journey will peak in 2026 when the Winter Games are held in Italy, in Milano and Cortina.

"For Milano Cortina 2026, I was appointed captain of a team composed of three young skiers that are from Nigeria but live in other countries. [My role] is to explain to them the process and to help them on their Olympic journey," he said.

In January 2021, Ikpefan took part in his first World Cup in Sweden's Falun.

Nigeria made headlines in Pyeongchang in 2018 when its athletes competed in skeleton and bobsled.

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