Philip Boit and Bjorn Daehlie: Cross-country friends – By Maddy Savage BBC News 23 January 2014 Last updated at 20:16 ET

Bjorn Daehlie (L) and Philip Boit. Photograph: Uglum Morten, Aftenposten, Scanpix

As Zimbabwe and Togo prepare to make their Winter Olympic debuts in Sochi, Kenya’s first international skier recalls the unexpected friendship that turned him into a poster boy for snow sports in Africa.

When Philip Boit put on his skis at the Nagano Winter Olympics 1998, it was only two years since he had first seen snow.

Boit was born into a farming family in Eldoret in western Kenya, home to some of the world’s fastest runners, but when the sportswear company Nike came looking for a runner prepared to to train as a cross-country skier, the 26-year-old stepped forward.

“It was a bit challenging at first because I had never experienced cold weather like that in my life,” he says, remembering his first trip to Finland, where he went to train.

“Even putting on skis was so difficult! But after some time, I learned to adapt.”

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