102 events, 15 sports, February 9-25, 2018, city of Pyeongchang – South Korea, this could actually be labelled Winter Olympics of surprise for one thing. Three Nigerians make history: being the first time Nigeria participates in Winter Olympics; being the first ever Africans to compete in the sport of bobsled.
Bobsled or bobsleigh was first played in the late 19th Century. It’s a winter sport played by a team of 2 to 4 members who make measured runs along narrow, meandering, iced corridor in a gravity-powered equipment called sled or sleigh. The measured run times are totaled to determine performance.
The three amazing ladies – Seun Adigun (team lead), Akuoma Omeoga and Ngozi Onwumere make up the team-Nigeria registering the county’s presence at this year’s Winter Olympics. How did they get here? Actually no one gave them any chance! Though based in US, the trio used to be track and field athletes and only started to learn the new game in 2016. In fact, they had to generate funds for training equipment and gears via crowd-funding platforms like go fund me. Generating awareness at home front wasn’t easy because Nigerians know nothing about bobsled. They had to pioneer National Bobsled Federation and market themselves with vigour and passion.
Interestingly as we speak, the team is commanding a lot of attention internationally. They’ve featured on TV and online media both in Nigeria and abroad. They’ve been viewed over a combination of 1.6M times on YouTube and still counting.
Ahead of the 2018 Winter Olympics, Nigeria’s bobsled team is fast becoming a cynosure of all interests. To mention a few, US sportswear manufacturer, Under Armour will supply them kits while Laser SA, based in Belgium is supplying their helmets. Visa, a global payment solution provider is also sponsoring them. Wow! What if these amazing ladies perform well to the point of getting a medal at the Winter Olympics? No doubts, that will further establish them in stardom. Even if that is not to be, these ladies are already causing a wave of inspiration across Africa.
Guess who else has become a big fan of the Nigeria’s bobsled team! Serena Williams! She tweeted on Jan 19, 2018: "…I am so exited to watch Nigeria compete in winter Olympics bobsledding race the first time an African country has ever competed in bobsledding!"
US Vice President Mike Pence is scheduled to attend the opening ceremony, although there is a cause for security concerns. France and Germany are purportedly considering a boycott of the event. Few hours ago it became official that North Korea has called off its participation in the proposed joint cultural event with South Korea in the opening ceremony. However, its no surprise because N.Korea has a history of last minute cancellation. So there is no cause for alarm, Winter Olympics kicks off on February 9 and team Nigeria is representing!
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