They are drawing comparisons to Jamaica’s first bobsled team which participated in the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary. But it’s a comparison that female bobsled team of Nigeria is not running away from.
For all the feel-good story of the Jamaican team, immortalized in the 1993 movie “Cool Runnings,” the highest finished in the sport from the tropical country was 14th at the 1994 Olympics.
The Nigerian team—led by Seun Adigun with her brakemen Ngozi Onwumere and Akuoma Omeoga—will travel to PyeongChang, South Korea next month seeking to win it all.
Adigun, 31, said that her countrymen in Nigeria are so excited to support them in an unfamiliar sport.
“I realized exactly what was a void from the country of Nigeria, from the continent of Africa and for women in general being represented,” she said.
Indeed, making it to the Olympics seemed an impossibility just three years ago. For one, Nigeria has no governing body that will oversee the bobsled team. With enough lobby, the Bobsled and Skeleton Federation of Nigeria was created.
Next is the money for equipment and training. A 2016 GoFundMe page raised over $75,000 to buy the necessary gear, including the wooden bobsleigh they named the “Mayflower.”
Her two friends, also track-and-field stars for Nigeria, quipped that Adigun held them hostage into joining the bobsled team. But Onwumere said that she’s regretted nothing despite all the hard work they underwent in order to qualify for the Olympics.
“This journey has taught me that self-improvement is on a continuum,” she said. “And that’s what life is about, just always wanting to improve.”
For her part, Omeoga said that representing her home country is always an honor regardless of the sport so joining the bobsled team was a no-brainer for her.
But Adigun said that they don’t want to be seen as a novelty in the Olympics. “We want to be able to be something that people can really be able to be proud of,” she added.