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An Olympic First: Nigerian Bobsledding team slides into the Winter Olympics

An Olympic First: Nigerian Bobsledding team slides into the Winter Olympics

History was made this year in Pyeongchang as a team of competitors from what may seem like an unlikely country in an unlikely sport made their Winter Olympics debut. Although 94 years have passed since the Winter Games were first held in Chamonix, France in 1924, Nigeria has never been represented in the competitions. But that all changed in 2018 as the female Nigerian Bobsled team slid onto the Olympic track for the very first time. This not only marked Nigeria’s first team sent to the Winter Olympics, but also the first time in history an African nation was represented in the Bobsled competition, a sport generally associated with countries with a much colder climate.

Driver Seun Adigun, and brakewomen Akuoma Omeoga and Ngozi Onwumere have competed in all five qualifying races leading up to the 2018 Games, and they earned the opportunity to travel to South Korea to fight for a medal.

It may seem random for an African nation to put together a bobsled team—how much snow could these girls have seen? And while these athletes have fought to qualify for the winter games, bobsledding is not where each of the women began their journeys.

Adigun, Omeoga, and Onwumere each began their athletic careers as track and field athletes. Adigun competed in the 2012 London Olympics in the 100-meter hurdles. Omeoga ran sprints for the University of Minnesota track team. Onwumere ran sprints for the University of Houston and also competes internationally for Nigeria’s sprinting team.

“We are from a continent that would never imagine sliding down ice at 80 or 90 miles per hour,” Adigun said in an interview with BBC. “I find the idea of getting people to take to that inspiring in itself.”

The Bobsled & Skeleton Federation of Nigeria (BSFN) was excited for the ground-breaking competition and to support the women competing.

“Their hard work was inspiring and I hope Nigerians can appreciate what it took for them to achieve this,” BSFN President Solomon Ogba said to CNN.

Adigun, Omeoga and Onwumere have pushed themselves to do something that most people don’t even consider, and they have found themselves inspiring people around the world. Loyola student Deborah Ope, ’18 is from Nigeria and looks to her home country’s historic first with admiration. “As a Nigerian and an African, to see these young women as representatives in the winter Olympics is inspiring, and it speaks volumes to the power of firsts. In addition, with them also being black women it also just shows the true power of black girl magic.”

The team made history on Feb. 20th, as they completed their first run in 52.21 seconds. The run marked the first Nigerian winter Olympic appearance, and placed the club 20th overall in the competition.


*Photo courtesy of firsline mag via*

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An Olympic First: Nigerian Bobsledding team slides into the Winter Olympics