Nigeria will be represented at the Winter Olympics for the first time ever, thanks to history makers, Seun Adigun, Ngozi Onwumere and Akuoma Omeoga, individuals who make up the women’s team that qualified for the bobsled event at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang.
Nothing but sheer tenacity has brought the team this far. Late last year, the three athletes started a GoFundMe campaign to raise funds and create awareness around the historical feat they were set to accomplish. Adigun who actually conceived the idea, and went on to recruit her other team members, described the project as a difficult one, but also as one of the most impactful things she will ever initiate.
Today their hard work and perseverance have paid off as they completed the fifth of the required five qualifying races on Wednesday to become the first African team, men or women, to qualify in the Winter Olympics’ Bobsled category. Their perseverance has also earned them a spot on Team Visa, top worldwide sponsors of the Olympic Games.
“When we first heard their story we recognized the collective spirit of these athletes as a perfect fit for Team Visa,” said Chris Curtin, chief brand and innovation marketing officer at Visa. “By joining Team Visa, we hope to provide this group of determined athletes with a global stage to tell their story and inspire athletes all over the world to follow their dreams and never give up.”
“This is a huge milestone for sports in Nigeria. Nothing makes me prouder than to know that I can play a small role in creating opportunities for winter sports to take place in Nigeria,” Adigun told KweséESPN. “Our objective now is to be the best representation of Africa that the Winter Olympics have ever witnessed.” According to the team, most people are surprised to learn that they do the bulk of their training in warm weather, having begun their training on the “snowless grounds of Houston, Texas, in a wooden sled.”
Adigun, who is also the team’s driver, represented Nigeria at the World Championships in Berlin and Daegu in 2009 and 2011 respectively. She also competed at the London 2012 Olympics. Brakeman Onwumere competed at the World Relays in the Bahamas last year and clinched a Silver and Gold medal at the African Games in Congo Brazzaville in the 200m and 400m relay. But for Omeoga, the Winter Games in PyeongChang will be her first outing for Nigeria.
Solomon Ogba, President of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria, lauds the team for their achievement. “I commend the personal dedication and commitment of these women,” he said via a statement. “Their hard work was inspiring and I hope Nigerians can appreciate what it took for them to achieve this – the work, the discipline, and the personal sacrifices. They were amazing throughout this journey.”