A trio of Nigerian women is making history in the 2018 Winter Olympics, as these women are the first bobsled team to compete from their country.
Seun Adigun, Ngozi Onwumere and Akuoma Omeoga are making headlines across the world. They’re representing their country of Nigeria and Africans everywhere as the bobsled team competes this winter in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Adigun, Onwumere and Omeoga are the first African representatives, male or female, to qualify for the bobsled event.
Adigun, the leader of the trio, wanted to get back in the swing of competing after she was out of sports since 2015.
“I basically got into the sport of bobsledding in 2015 after a little bit of a hiatus from athletics,” Adigun said in an interview with People magazine.
She also told People how she discovered that Nigeria never had any Winter Olympians, and Africa never sent any Olympians as bobsled competitors. Those two facts sparked her interests in bobsledding.
In 2015, Adigun joined the United States’ bobsled team as a brakeman and earned the achievement of Brakewoman of the Year. The following year, she decided to get back with her home country and start a team with Nigeria. She acquired Onwumere and Omeoga, former track teammates of hers, for the Nigerian bobsled team.
They all had achieved previous success in track. Omwumere competed in the All-African games, and Adigun made it to the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. She competed in the 100-meter hurdles.
“The only thing that is really different in terms of the actual sport in itself is the winter aspect of it and it being so labor intensive,” Onwumere said in the interview with People.
Training, equipment, and a place to practice bobsledding are expensive. The teammates relied on the help of others to fund their expensive needs. Chris Curtin, chief brand and innovation marketing officer at Visa, heard about the touching story and sponsored them with Team Visa. The women met their goal of raising $75,000.
The three had to use resourceful thinking to achieve their Olympic dream. To train, they built a wooden practice sled in Adigun’s garage.
The Olympians trained out of Houston, but during their down time, they visited their home country of Nigeria. They took opportunities to promote their little-known sport. The team was treated like celebrities and had to hire security for protection from fans.
Training at the Olympic Sliding Centre begins on Feb 17, and the medal round is four days later. The odds are not in these women’s favor, but what they have already achieved is nothing short of a miracle.