Nigerian women make Winter Olympic history

Bobsled team qualifies for Pyeongchang 2018

In Vancouver, in 2012, Ghana became the first African nation to participate in the Winter Olympics, when alpine skier Kwame Nkrumah-Acheampong placed 47th in the men’s slalom event. At the 2018 Pyeongchang Games, spectators will witness the second: Nigeria’s women’s bobsled team is on the cusp of qualifying for the 2018 games, which will begin on February 9, 2018.

The team, comprised of three members, has now completed all the required qualifying races, and, based on past standings and results, is very likely to qualify for the Olympics. There are two extra races left before the final rankings are determined on January 14, when their participation will be confirmed.

Qualifying is not the team’s only hope. Seun Adigun, the team’s driver, said last week after a race in Calgary: “We have goals. I know the goal I have as a driver is to drive us to the podium, that’s just the competitor in me. Obviously, the bigger goal is to just be as competitive as we can and obviously shoot for the podium.”

Their journey started in 2014, when Adigun, born in the United States to Nigerian parents, built a sled she named the ‘Maeflower’ out of scratch in her garage in Texas. Formerly a 100-metre hurdles sprinter in the Summer Olympics, her competitive drive led her to recruit two brakewomen, Ngozi Onwumere and Akuoma Omeoga, also former track athletes.

The three-person team was then able to compete in World Cup bobsledding competitions around the world. Their success led them to Olympic aspirations. In total, their dream required them to raise approximately $150,000, for training, equipment, and an Olympic bid. The team exceeded this amount through contributions on their GoFundMe page, the International Bobsledding and Skeleton Federation (IBSF) Emerging Nations program, and Team VISA, which is a program that provides tools and resources for athletes.

After many hours of hard work and fundraising, the three women have finally made it past the first step of the qualifying process. They are already beloved by fans and will be without a doubt one of the most thrilling stories of the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics.