Akuoma Omeoga, 25, a former collegiate Track and Field athlete for the University of Minnesota, is one of the brakeman for the Nigerian Women's Bobsled Team billed compete for the first time in the Winter Olympic Games when the event holds in in PyeongChang, South Korea between February 9 to 25, 2018.
Omeoga will team up with Seun Adigun, Ngozi Onwumere and Simidele Adeagbon to fly the nation's flag at the Games. That this would be their debut outing at the event is not a dampener of their belief in the possibilities at the games. Rather, she says the team is ready to upset the existing order in the Winter Olympics.
Speaking with The Guardian at the weekend just before they departed for South Korea, Omeoga spoke of the team's expectation at the meet."We are naturally competitive athletes and our expectation is to finish among top 10. The sport is very difficult and we are yet to successfully complete the learning curve. We have only been doing the sport for about a year and a half, if not less than that.
"With respect to the sport and respect to other athletes, a top 10 finish will definitely be exciting and if we can get support towards achieving that, it will absolutely be amazing."She revealed that the team spent a better part of last year getting ready for the Games, adding, "we spent majority of our time when we were in Houston, Texas, a state where there is no snow, training for the event. We spent a lot of time in the waiting room. For us, we actually have to get bigger for the sport.
"We had to put some weight since we were coming from the Field and Track background where our bodies were usually leaner. So, we had to put on some weight in order to do some Bosled. That was also a challenge and then we still had to be fast in Bosled in order to push it from the top of the hill to the bottom of the hill.
"I think Bosled has been a lot of stress in the body because the sport is very hard on the body and it is not as smooth as a lot of people thought it is."Omeoga disclosed that the team has received much support from government and members of corporate Nigeria, adding, "A lot of people don't really know how much support we have got when it comes to the Nigerian government.
"We started the federation less than two years ago.We are able to rally round and have control over most of the things that we are doing now because we did our part. We didn't necessarily have to rely so heavily on our government because it is never about what we can take out of the country but about what we can put back into it."
Also expecting a good outing from the Nigerian team, the General Manager, Air France KLM Nigeria and Ghana, Mr. Michel Colleau, whose firm is the official airline of the Bobsled/Skeleton team to the Winter Olympics in conjunction with Travelstart Nigeria, said KLM has always been eager to support Nigerian talents.
"KLM is first of all very interested in investing in Nigeria and in its DNA, it has always been a kind of pioneer airline, opening new routes, starting from 1923. We have always been interested by connecting with energetic people, innovative people, dynamic people.
"So, it is very normal that also in line with the Olympic spirit that KLM supports this Nigerian team because it is really a pioneer effort. First time Nigeria is sending a team to the Winter Olympics. So we needed to be there to offer our support. It is really something that we do for Nigeria in action whether in sports or in music, in arts and in general.
"We like to support them to reach their dreams, this term it is the Olympics dream that is something that KLM cares for in Nigeria like in other countries helping young dynamic talents reach their dreams. KLM will carry the whole team happily to Seoul and bring them back." Colleau believes the Winter Olympics team is giving Nigeria a wonderful image, adding that KLM wants to be part of it.