How Nigeria’s first ever Winter Olympians went from track to bobsled

(CNN)Three Nigerian-American girls are making history — and their Olympic dreams come true — by being the first African bobsled team to qualify for the Olympics.

The team are also the first fellow athletes to compete in a Winter Olympics, when they look at the PyeongChang games, which start February 9.
Seun Adigun, Ngozi Onwumere and Akuoma Omeoga would be the force behind the team, which officially qualified for the games in November last year.
    “When people see us, they’re like ‘oh you guys are all the same!’ We get along so well, but between the three of us there’s so much flexibility,” Omeoga told CNN.
    Adigun, the driver and creator of the team, explains herself as the critical, analytical one, whereas Omwumere is more laid back, and Omeoga meets them at the center.
    But all of them have one thing in common: they are all former track and field stars.


    They had successes. Omwmuere competed from the All-African games, also Adigun made it into the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, where she competed in the 100-meter hurdles.
    In 2015, Olympic dreams called Adigun back, this time, to uncharted land: sliding on ice at speeds around 90 mph.
    “I began bobsled in 28 years of age. It’s not I was not able to start earlier. I didn’t have any idea about it,” Adigun explained.
    In the time, the game was hoping to grow and attract former track athletes. Team USA recruited Adigun, who grew up in the united states, and she turned into a brakewoman for annually.
    Not long afterwards, she had a dialogue with Nigeria’s bobsled federation.
    “They told me there’s an opportunity for me to help alter what it means to be a bobsled athlete to the continent of Africa, also at the game itself. The humanitarian in me knew that this was something I needed to perform,” Adigun explained.
    A year after, she enlisted friends Onwumere and Omeoga as her brakewomen to form a bobsled team from scratch.
    “She kidnapped us. That’s the narrative,” Omeoga explained.
    “Yeah! Held captive!” Onwumere chimed.
    But they all felt it was the right time to do something large for their country, and continent.

    Nigerian origins

    If they’re not on the road travel into wintery destinations they reside in Houston, Texas. But to all three, Nigeria has always been home.
    “Being Nigerian was always some thing which was certainly prominent in my childhood, since it’s as far as in adulthood. That was the first culture that I’ve ever known,” Omeoga explained.
    In April 2017, the trio had a major homecoming to advertise the winter game in the country, and show Nigerians exactly what bobsled is and how they too can train for a cold-weather game, even if they reside in a warm-weather place.
    Adigun includes a distinctive tool for teaching when not around the ice. It’s a wooden sled that she calls the Mayflower.
    “I built [it] when I was a brakeman in the united states. So, once I decided to start the team it only turned into the bobsled 101 tool. We spend a lot of time doing repetitions on the Mayflower, on track or turf surfaces,” Adigun explained.
    The journey thus far has been a great ride. The rides themselves? Perhaps somewhat different than envisioned.
    Adigun admits the driver’s seat is much more comfortable, if you don’t crash.
    “You know, when you crash, there’s kind of a different ride. But like with anything that is new there’s no real blueprint, you know there’s likely to be stages and stages where you might encounter some partitions,” Adigun explained.
    But the experience has been positive.
    “This journey has taught me that self-improvement is on a continuum. Even when we get to the Olympics, it is still like, “What happens next?” And that is what life is about, only always wanting to enhance,” Onwumere explained.
    Adigun doesn’t wish to be seen as the newest kids on the block.
    “We wish to be in a position to become something which individuals can truly be in a position to be proud of.”


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