Seun Adigun, Ngozi Onwumere and Akuoma Omega made history after becoming Nigeria’s first-ever bobsled team to qualify for the 2018 Winter Olympics. The news broke in November after the three female athletes successfully completed five races in North America. The team consists of driver Seun and two brakemen Ngozi and Akuoma. All three have dual citizenship with the U.S. and Nigeria which makes them eligible to compete for the gold.
In an interview with PEOPLE, Adigun says “I basically got into the sport of bobsledding in 2015 after a little bit of a hiatus from athletics,” noting that the International Bobsled and Skeleton Federation, the governing body for the sport, was looking to grow with more women’s sports teams. Adigun said that the achievement was a “huge milestone” for Nigerian sport.
Like the men from Jamaica’s bobsled team who became the inspiration for the movie “Cool Runnings,” the Nigerian bobsled team has a track and field background. Adigun competed for Nigeria in the 2012 London Games as a hurdler and ran at the University of Houston. Onwumere won two medals as a sprinter at the 2015 African Games and Omeoga was a sprinter at Minnesota.
Adigun wanted to get back into Olympic sport and try something different. That meant convincing her fellow teammates Omeoga and Onwumere to come along for the ride (literally) and represent their parents’ home country. “It was probably a five-minute conversation,” said Adigun to VISA, with whom they recently signed a sponsorship deal. “Track and field and bobsledding are actually pretty similar in terms of the technicalities and training,” said Onwumere.
Their journey began in Houston, TX with a homemade wooden sled and after months of labor-intensive training, Team Nigeria went on to compete professionally in five competitions in Utah and Canada. They launched a GoFundMe campaign late last year to raise $75,000 for their Olympic bid and achieved their goal in less than 11 months.
The Winter Olympics will take place on Feb 9th-25th, 2018 in Pyeong Chang, South Korea.