Even Before The Olympics, This Nigerian Bobsled Team Is Making History For Africa

“We are from a continent that would never imagine sliding down ice at 80 or 90 miles per hour.”

Nigerian hurdler Seun Adigun didn't qualify in her 100-meter heat at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, but nearly six years later, she's gearing up for another shot at Olympic glory. She'll be racing nearly half a world away in Pyeongchang, South Korea, on a track of ice, not clay. 

The 31-year-old is leading Nigeria's bobsled team, the first bobsled team to represent the African nation — and, in fact, any African nation — at the Olympics.

Adigun and her brakewomen, Akuoma Omeoga and Ngozi Onwumere, qualified for this year's Olympics in November. That history-making moment was four years in the making, starting from when Adigun built a makeshift sled in a Texas garage, as CNN reports. Now, thanks to a GoFundMe campaign that raised $75,000 (including $50,000 from a single anonymous donor), the three women will be racing down the Pyeongchang bobsled track in a state-of-the-art machine next month.

"We are from a continent that would never imagine sliding down ice at 80 or 90 miles per hour," Adigun told BBC News in March. "I find the idea of getting people to take to that inspiring in itself."

After branching out into a whole new sport, Adigun has advice to share with anyone on the precipice of a big change. "Fear is just another opportunity to learn," she said, talking to CNN. "Don't be afraid to take that risk … Impossible is nothing. You can sometimes stand in front of a door without knowing what's on the other side and open it. You won't know what's on the other side until you open it. Being in an uncomfortable place isn't bad [and] it isn't wrong; it's just different. Sometimes you need to be able to take that chance."

Now the women are training hard for next month's Olympic Games. "This is a huge milestone for sports in Nigeria," Adigun told KweséESPN in November. "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. Our objective now is to be the best representation of Africa that the Winter Olympics have ever witnessed."

Now other warm-weather countries have the Winter Olympics in their sights, too. Ugandan athlete Brolin Mawejje hopes to qualify for the 2022 Olympics in Beijing and be Africa's first Olympic snowboarder, while the Filipino bobsled team is working toward a spot at Beijing, too. No snow, no ice? No problem!


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