12 February 2018

Nigeria: Why Four Nigerian Women in Korea Are Already Winners

Photo: Seun Adigun/Facebook
Nigeria’s first bobsled team photographed by Obi Grant. From Left, Akuoma Omeoga, Seun Adigun (Centre), Ngozi Onwumere (Right)

It is very appropriate that in the year of the Black Panther, the world's most populous black nation, Nigeria, makes her debut appearance at the Winter Olympics.

Superheroes are supposed to be white while black men are not supposed to be able to ski - but 2018 has seen a change.

The movie, set for release February 16, has a black director, black superhero and a nearly all-black supporting cast, which could have been the Nigerian three-woman Bobsled team.

In Hollywood, this is unprecedented just like Nigeria setting a flag in the snow in PyeongChang, South Korea.

In a video by Beats, a voice says, "You can make your own legacy but you have to start somewhere." Ngozi Onwumere, Akuoma Omeoga, and Seun Adigun have decided to start theirs in Seoul.

President Muhammadu Buhari sent them felicitations on Twitter.

"I'm extending my best wishes to #TeamNigeria as they proudly step out in Nigerian colours at the Winter Olympics in South Korea.

"Congratulations to Seun Adigun, Ngozi Onwumere, Akuoma Omeoga and Simidele Adeagbo, who are all making history for themselves and for Nigeria."

After crowdfunding their way to qualify for the games, the Bobsled trio has been featured on the Ellen DeGeneres Show, talked about by no less a sporting icon than Serena Williams and had a video made for them by Beats. Unprecedented, you will agree!

Simi Adeagbo will be competing in the Skeleton and joins Onwumere, Omeoga, and Adigun - the Bobsled trio. They have promised that going to PyeongChang is not just about making up the numbers but to start a revolution.

Adigun, who bears a passing resemblance to Viola Davis, was the dream hatcher, who recruited the other two and the team's driver.

She said on the Good Morning Houston Show that the first time she got in a sled, she believed she would never do it again.

"To get to our goal, we have to spend like $150,000 [about N54 million]," Adigun revealed to the BBC, who did a short documentary on the team.

Adigun told Premium Times last week in Lagos, "We assure you that we have not come this far to give up but to make history. We want to make something special in Korea.

"The fact that we are pioneers in the sport in Nigeria makes it more delightful and the fact that we are already having a positive impact in the world is something that will spur us not only to participate at the games but also to compete for medals."

Adigun also recounted how her journey into the sport began.

"I was inspired by the members of the US team and the coaches to do something to help the sport grow and bring more continents to the sport," she added.

"It was important to try and help Nigeria get its first Winter Olympians, and also represent the continent of Africa in bobsledding.

"It seemed like it had grown to be so much larger than me at that point. It was almost like a calling from God."

Onwumere, on her part, said: "To be the first to do anything is, I think, it's just something that you can't really explain.

"We don't just want the dream to stop by qualifying for the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang but making history by winning."

Omeoga, 26, who ran track at the University of Minnesota, said, "A medal is almost too much to think of but actually that has never even crossed my mind yet," she said.

"I'm just taking things one day at a time: Don't get too ahead of yourself, don't get too behind yourself, and don't sell yourself short on anything."

For Adeagbo, fulfilling an Olympic dream at 36, is not the main thing, it is the breaking of barriers.

"Ultimately, for me, this is about breaking barriers in winter sports. It's about making history. And leaving a legacy. It's about moving the sport forward - that's so much bigger than just me being an Olympian.

"I have come a long way on this path and I have to stay on it. And once I decide to go, I just keep going," adds Adigun, in what should be the real lesson behind this adventure.

Decide, and then you can go! Because these four women decided to compete and break beyond walls mounted for them by the world, they are already winners!

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