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The day of Philip Boit

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12 February 1998. In Nagano, cross-country skier Philip Boit was fighting his way to the finish line in the 10-kilometre classic race. The Kenyan already knew that he was making history by becoming the first representative of his country at the Winter Olympics. It wouldn’t matter that he would end up finishing last; eight minutes behind the penultimate racer and 20 minutes behind the winner. Unsurprisingly, that winner was Björn Daehlie. The king of cross-country skiers had long since crossed the finish line by the time Boit fought his way over the last few metres.

But Daehlie hadn’t just left to soak up the glory. He remained at the finish line, waiting for Boit. “We heard from the loudspeakers that he was near the stadium – and I was really impressed that he made it to the finish in these difficult conditions”, Daehlie recalled later. It had started to rain heavily shortly before the start, making the event more challenging for the Kenyan.

So there, with fans in the stadium cheering on, came a famous embrace between Boit and the great Daehlie. The Kenyan later reminisced of the moment: “I couldn't believe that the best cross-country skier was standing there hugging me.” The pictures went around the world, inspiring countless people who might previously have thought that skiing wasn’t for them.

The two men, who lived many thousands of kilometres apart and in different worlds, became friends in that moment – for life. When it came to the naming of his first son, for Boit there was only one choice: Daehlie, after the legend who had given him his own legendary Olympic moment.