Nige­rian women make Win­ter Olympic his­tory

Bob­sled team aim­ing to qual­ify for Pyeongchang 2018

The McGill Daily - - Contents - Do­rian Des­blancs Sports Writer

In Van­cou­ver, in 2012, Ghana be­came the first African na­tion to par­tic­i­pate in the Win­ter Olympics, when alpine skier Kwame Nkrumah-acheam­pong placed 47th in the men’s slalom event. At the 2018 Pyeongchang Games, spec­ta­tors might wit­ness the se­cond: Nige­ria’s women’s team is on the cusp of qual­i­fy­ing for the 2018 games, which will be­gin on Fe­bru­ary 9, 2018.

The team, com­prised of three mem­bers, has now com­pleted all the re­quired qual­i­fy­ing races, and, based on past stand­ings and re­sults, is very likely to qual­ify for the Olympics. There are two ex­tra races left be­fore the fi­nal rank­ings are de­ter­mined on Jan­uary 14, when their par­tic­i­pa­tion will be con­firmed.

Qual­i­fy­ing is not the team’s only hope. Seun Adi­gun, the team’s driver, said last week af­ter a race in Calgary: “We have goals. I know the goal I have as a driver is to drive us to the podium, that’s just the com­peti­tor in me. Ob­vi­ously, the big­ger goal is to just be as competitive as we can and ob­vi­ously shoot for the podium.”

Their jour­ney started in 2014, when Adi­gun, born in the United States to Nige­rian par­ents, built a sled she named the ‘Mae­flower’ from scratch in her garage in Texas. For­merly a 100- me­tre hur­dles sprinter in the Lon­don 2012 Sum­mer Olympics, her competitive drive led her to re­cruit two brake­women, Ngozi On­wumere and Akuoma Omeoga, also for­mer track ath­letes.

The three- per­son team was then be able to com­pete in World Cup bob­sled­ding com­pe­ti­tions around the world. Their success led them to Olympic as­pi­ra­tions. In to­tal, their dream re­quired them to raise ap­prox­i­mately $ 150000 for train- ing, equip­ment, and an Olympic bid. The team ex­ceeded this amount through con­tri­bu­tions on their Go­fundme page, the In­ter­na­tional Bob­sled­ding and Skele­ton Fed­er­a­tion ( IBSF) Emerg­ing Na­tions pro­gram, and Team VISA, which is a pro­gram that pro­vides tools and re­sources for ath­letes.

Af­ter many hours of hard work and fundrais­ing, the three women have fi­nally made it past the first step of the qual­i­fy­ing process. They are al­ready beloved by fans and will be with­out a doubt one of the most thrilling sto­ries of the Pyeongchang 2018 Win­ter Olympics.

Nelly Wat | The Mcgill Daily

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