Nigerian women bobsled team make history in PyeongChang

Seun Adigun and Akuoma Omeoga become first African athletes to compete in bobsleigh

Nigeria women's bobsleigh, PyeongChang
Seun Adigun and Akuoma Omeoga wave after their second heat on Tuesday
(Image credit: MOHD RASFAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Nigerian duo Seun Adigun and Akuoma Omeoga “made history in 52.21 seconds” in PyeongChang yesterday, says NBC.

Although the pair finished last in their two-woman bobsleigh heats, losing out on the chance of racing for a medal in this afternoon’s final, they won the honour of becoming the first athletes from an African nation to compete in a bobsleigh event.

Their inspirational journey has touched many sports fans, predictably drawing comparisons to the 1993 film Cool Runnings, which told the story of Jamaica’s first-ever bobsleigh team.

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The Nigerian team was founded less than two years ago by US-born Adigun, who represented Nigeria in the 100m hurdles at the 2012 London Games.

After watching the 2014 Sochi Winter Games, “I kind of had Olympic fever again”, Adigun told CBC. “I knew quite a few track and field athletes who had transitioned into the winter sports, so I figured, ‘You know, I think I could try this’.”

After learning how to drive a bobsled, Adigun recruited fellow Nigerian-Americans Ngozi Onwumere and Akuoma Omeoga - both also former sprinters - as brakemen for Nigeria’s first-ever bobsleigh team.

As well as their lack of previous Olympic experience, the squad have had to overcome financial and logistical hurdles.

Only Adigun, who previously trained with the US bobsleigh squad, has raced on ice before, and until recently the team trained on a wooden sled that Adigun built herself.

A crowdfunding campaign raised $75,000 (£54,000) to help the team buy an Olympic-level machine in time for the PyeongChang Games.

The bobsleigh team make up three-quarters of Nigeria’s first ever Winter Olympics delegation.

The fourth and final member, Simidele Adeagbo, raced in the skeleton event on Friday and Saturday.

Although she finished last in both heats, Adeago - who only took up the skeleton last year - was just milliseconds behind her nearest rivals.

The 36-year-old, who is based in South Africa, said that she was overwhelmed by the support she had received in PyeongChang.

“People just want to be a part of my story,” she told the Johannesburg-based Mail and Guardian. “When they see me in my Nigerian jacket, people from all over want to stop and take pictures.”

Judging by the reception the squad received on Twitter, Team Nigeria can now count fans all over the world:

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