Its been 29 years since The Jamaican Bobsled teams historic Olympic debut made history in Calgary. History returned to Calgary on Thursday when three Nigerian women finished fifth in their qualifying race and will represent Nigeria as the first-ever African bobsled team to qualify for the Olympics, and the countrys first-ever representatives at the Winter Olympics.
Driver Seun Adigun (middle) and her brakewomen, Ngozi Onwumere (right) and Akuoma Omeoga (left), having a little fun dancing in an exclusive behind the scenes shot from their first ever photo shoot at a team! Photographer: Obi Grant Videographer: Obi Grant Song: Drake ft Big Sean – All Me
To put the magnitude of the accomplishment into perspective, there have been 22 Winter Olympics held in 19 cities dating back to 1924.
Nigerian Women Bobsled Team has qualified for 2018 Winter Olympics, first bobsled team ever to qualify from the African continent. Already sponsored by Under Armour & VISA.
As the world continues to shrink and color lines, categories and cultures are more frequently shared and hard to restrict, the changing landscape is often reflected in athletics. Over the past 25 years we have had an influx of people of color participating in sports that were traditionally and almost exclusively played and dominated by whites, from golf to fencing to tennis, rugby and auto racing. And now bobsledding.
The 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil was a showcase of firsts for African-American women in myriad sporting events. The 2018 Winter Olympics in Calgary has the potential to be groundbreaking as well.
Fighting freezing winds, bone-breaking speed and up to five g-force, the Nigerian women’s bobsleigh team are training hard in western Canada. Driver Seun Adigun and brakewomen Ngozi Onwumere and Akuoma Omeoga are all former professional track and field athletes. Their practice times on the ice run are fast – and they are aiming for a historic first.
When the mens Jamaican Bobsled team debuted in the 1988 Olympic Games in Calgary, despite not placing well, they were the first of their kind in the history of winter sports and gained fame and recognition for breaking color barriers. The squad was an inspiration to athletes and one of the major storylines of that Olympic Games. A movie starring Malik Yoba was even made about their journey, Cool Runnings.
Expect the same for the team of Seun Adigun, a former Olympic hurdler in 2012 and former track and field athletes Ngozi Onwumere and Akuoma Omeoga. The women will head to Pyeongchang in South Korea in February of 2018 – ironically on the 30th anniversary of Jamaicas Bobsledding debut. Pyeongchang is the third Asian city to host the Winter Games after Sapporo, Japan (1972), and Nagano, Japan (1998).
The Texas-based trio will try to dethrone two-time defending gold medalist Canada. That will be a tough task and no one is expecting the women to ace their first Olympics, but don’t count out a group of strong women that have already broken into a market that is inconceivable and inaccessible to athletes from tropical areas with no snow. They are already legends and have finally put the great continent of Africa into the Winter Olympics mix. If they have any success at all, the cameras across the world will be there to capture and post their journey step by step.