As difficult as it may seem, a bobsled team made up of three Nigerian women has qualified for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Besides the fact that there is no winter in Nigeria, Seun Adigun, Ngozi Onwumere and Akuoma Omega made history as the first in Africa to qualify after completing all five North American competitions held in Utah, Whistler and Calgary late last month.
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They also made history as the first ever athletes to represent the sub-Saharan Africa country in any sport at the Winter Olympics.
The Nigerian Bobsled Team makes history as they become the FIRST EVER African female bobsled team to qualify for the Winter Olympics. Congratulations to the amazing team #Iceblazers @Visa @ToyotaMotorCorp @AskTeamUA @espn @CNN @kwesesports @GuardianNigeria @PulseNigeria247 pic.twitter.com/MoeBXhPCtm
— TMC (@TheTempleCo) November 16, 2017
Other Africans hoping to join them include 24-year-old snowboarder Brolin Mawejje from Uganda and 31-year old skeleton athlete Akwasi Frimpong from Ghana.
Mawejje is hoping to make history as the first snowboarder from Africa in the Olympics if he qualifies, likewise Frimpong who will also be the first skeleton athlete from Africa if he qualifies.
Here’s Akwasi Frimpong is a Dutch-Ghanaian sprinter, bobsledder, and skeleton athlete who has won 4 bronze, 4 silver, and 8 gold medals in various national and international sport events. He’s representing Ghana at the Winter Olympics. pic.twitter.com/wDL1o2Ty2N
— Brick (@alex__Himself) November 22, 2017
How did the dream start for the successful Nigerian team?
Seun Adigun, Ngozi Onwumere and Akuoma Omega are US-based track and field athletes who decided to compete in the winter sport for more laurels.
The bobsled driver Seun Adigun who represented Nigeria in the 100m hurdles at the London 2012 Olympic Games, started a Go Fund Me campaign in 2016 to fund their Olympic bid after recruiting the other two.
They raised their target of $75,000 in 11 months after gaining media attention and a strong Nigerian backing. This allowed them to train on ice with a real bobsled and set up the required federation for the sport.
Reaction to the WHOLE WORLDS SUPPORT! They can’t thank you all enough for the positive comments, reposts, likes and follows! This means the world to them! God bless Nigeria ??. @UnderArmour #wewill #teamUA #BSFNIGERIA #Bobsled pic.twitter.com/N21PCLqCAJ
— BSF Nigeria (@BSF_Nigeria) November 20, 2017
They used to train with a wooden sled they nicknamed “The Maeflower” in Houston, Texas where there is no snow.
“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 KweseESPN.
“Our objective now is to be the best representation of Africa that the Winter Olympics have ever witnessed,” she added.
The Nigerian Women’s Bobsled Team gained sponsorship from Visa and Under Armour to prepare them for the Winter Olympics history.
African history at the Winter Olympics
Africa has been represented at the Winter Olympics largely by skiers since 1984. Morocco, Algeria, South Africa, Cameroon, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Senegal, Togo and Zimbabwe have entered athletes in several Winter Olympics events.
This is the first time bobsled athletes from Africa have entered the event.
Nigeria’s Women’s Bobsled Team which sponsored themselves to become the first Nigerian team and African Bobsled team to qualify for the Winter Olympics made it to THE ELLEN SHOW. ❤❤❤❤ pic.twitter.com/s0LGLFJ8V7
— Isima (@IsimaOdeh) December 4, 2017
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