American tennis star and world No.1, Serena Williams, could not hide her admiration and support for Africa’s first female bobsled team at the Winter Olympics.
Williams posted a short video of the Nigerian trio on Twitter which showed them training for the winter event to be held in February in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
“This video literally gave me chills, I am so excited to watch Nigeria compete in the winter Olympics bobsledding race, the first time an African country has ever competed in bobsledding!” Serena tweeted.
This video literally gave me chills, I am so excited to watch Nigeria compete in the winter Olympics bobsledding race the first time an African country has ever competed in bobsledding! @beatsbydre #abovethenoise pic.twitter.com/zLDPLJfcIQ
— Serena Williams (@serenawilliams) January 19, 2018
Serena’s tweet got over 20,000 likes and 10,000 retweets with replies backing her support for the women who also made history as the first ever athletes to represent Nigeria in any sport at the Winter Olympics.
Besides the fact that there is no winter in Nigeria, Seun Adigun, Ngozi Onwumere and Akuoma Omega were the first in Africa to qualify after completing all five North American competitions held in Utah, Whistler and Calgary in November.
Akwasi Frimpong, Ghana’s first skeleton athlete also qualified for the 2018 Winter Olympics with 14th- and 15th-place finishes in Lake Placid last week. He is the only Ghanaian to qualify for the Winter Sports.
Ghana debuted at the Winter Sports in the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia where Kwame Nkrumah-Acheampong, popularly known as the “Snow leopard”, represented the country in the slalom ski event. Frimpong is the second athlete to represent Ghana at the winter sport.
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.
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.