Nigerian bobsled team on the verge of PyeongChang Olympics
Ben Cousins, CTVNews.ca Staff
Published Friday, November 17, 2017 1:58PM EST
Last Updated Friday, November 17, 2017 9:49PM EST
A trio of Nigerian women are on the verge of making bobsled, African and Olympic history.
Seun Adigun, Ngozi Onwumere and Akuoma Omeoga completed the final two of five required qualifying races at Calgary’s Winsport’s Canada Olympic Park on Wednesday, to inch closer to a spot in the upcoming Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea.
They would be the first African team to qualify for an Olympic bobsled event and the first athletes to represent Nigeria at a Winter Olympic Games.
“I am overjoyed, overwhelmed -- I’m a mixture of all kinds of emotions,” Adigun, the team’s pilot, told CTV News Channel on Friday. “But most of all, I am humbled, honoured and I’m very blessed and proud to be able to say that this is something that I have been able to accomplish.”
All three bobsledders are accomplished track and field athletes in the United States, where all three live and train in Houston, Texas.
In track, Adigun represented Nigeria in the 2012 London Olympics as a hurdler, Onwumere won two medals at the 2015 All-African Games and Omeoga has represented the University of Minnesota in various NCAA events.
In the early days of their bobsled training, the trio built a wooden version of a bobsled from scratch to give them an idea on what the sport might entail.
“It’s been everything that you would expect it to be: difficult; it’s been rewarding; it’s been a challenge in every sense of the word,” Adigun added. “It’s been something that has tested and challenged the idea of tackling the fear of the unknown and being able to do something bigger than yourself.”
All that stands in there way now is one world-ranking spot. In order to qualify for the Games, the team will need to be ranked within the Top-40 in the world by Jan. 14. They currently sit 41st, according to the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation.
Sleds qualify for the games after competing in at least five races on at least three tracks between Oct. 15, 2016 and Jan. 14, 2018. They must also finish within the Top 40 in each race. There are also three quota available to each continent.
The team’s dream of competing in the Winter Olympics has at least partially come to life through a GoFundMe campaign that’s raised more than $75,000.
“I went into raising the funds independently, because from the beginning, this was meant to be a gift to Nigeria,” Adigun said.
The Canadian team of Kaillie Humphries and Heather Moyse are the two-time gold medalists in the event; however they will not compete together this year.
The team might not be the only Nigerians headed to PyeongChang too, as Simidele Adeagbo, a competitive athlete in long jump and triple jump, is closing in on an Olympic berth in skeleton.
ECSTATIC to say the LEAST. We are so proud of our Women's Bobsled Team being eligible to qualify for the Winter Olympic Games! Congratulations @seun_msamazing @akuomaomeoga @ngozi.onwumere You Ladies showed nothing but pure heart and dedication. To see a mere dream come to reality is a true blessing. God bless you all and thank you for representing Nigeria so well! ❤️ #bsfnigeria #NigeriaBobsled #underarmour @underarmour #teamua #wewill #nigeria #nigerianathletes