Nigeria’s women’s bobsled team has qualified for the Olympic Winter Games – and looks certain to provide one of the feelgood stories of the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games. Here’s why:
The trio of Seun Adigun, Ngozi Onwumere and Akuoma Omega will be the first athletes from Nigeria to compete at a Winter Games. Furthermore, they will also be the first Africans to compete in the Olympic bobsled. Little wonder they are being hailed as pioneers. Adigun said: “Our objective now is to be the best representation of Africa that the Winter Olympics have ever witnessed.”
Humble beginning in Houston
The Winter Games dream started in Adigun’s garage in Houston, Texas, in 2014. That was when she made a makeshift sled out of wood and scraps and christened it ‘Mayflower’. The driver then set about recruiting her brakewomen, bringing Onwumere and Omega on board. They began practicing the following year and also raised USD 75,000 through a crowdfunding page. Now they have the backing of several heavyweight sponsors.
All three women were 100m athletes of some repute. This will not be Adigun’s first Olympic experience, because she competed for Nigeria in the heats of the 100m at London 2012. Onwumere won gold in the 4x100m at the All-African Games in Congo in 2015, while Omega has also competed on the circuit for her country.
“I know the goal I have is to drive us to the podium. That’s just the competitor in me.”
It’s little surprise that this has been dubbed Cool Runnings II, after the legendary Jamaican men’s teams that competed at the 1988 Games. Their story – about competitors from a tropical nation competing in a winter sport – is one of the most romantic in Winter Games history and spawned the hit 1993 Disney Film, ‘Cool Runnings’. Adigun said: “These men did something very special. To have anyone put us on the same line of legacy is really honorable.”
The trio insist they won’t be in PyeongChang just to provide a feelgood story though. They want a medal. Adigun said: “I know the goal I have is to drive us to the podium. That’s just the competitor in me.”
— BSF Nigeria (@BSF_Nigeria) November 20, 2017