Nigerian women's bobsleigh team hope to make history in Pyeongchang
Former sprinters looking to become first African team to ever qualify for Olympics in the sport
It might just be the greatest bobsleigh story to come out of a tropical nation since Cool Runnings.
The Nigerian women's two-person bobsleigh team took a big step to making history on Wednesday as the first African team to compete in bobsleigh at the Winter Olympics. Their story echoes the 1993 movie starring the late Canadian comedian John Candy about the Jamaican men's bobsleigh team that competed at the Calgary Olympics in 1988.
It is a dream come true for former sprinters Seun Adigun, Ngozi Onwumere, and Akuoma Omeoga, whose ticket to Pyeongchang will make them the first Winter Olympians to represent the West African nation.
Driver Adigun, who represented Nigeria in the 100 metres at the 2012 Olympics, and brakemen Onwumere and Omeoga, completed the fifth of their required five qualifying races in Calgary on Wednesday.
Although the Nigerians have achieved the qualifying standard, there is still work to be done. Countries hoping to race in Pyeongchang must be in the top 40 of the global rankings on Jan. 14 after seven World Cup races.
"It is not possible for any team to qualify for the Olympic Games this early," Nicola Minichiello, the North American Cup co-ordinator for International Bobsleigh Skeleton Federation (IBSF), told Reuters in an email. "If we base their results on last year's rankings the team [is] likely to qualify, however this will not be confirmed until much closer to the time."
Regardless, the team was flooded with praise on social media.
Congrats to former <a href="https://twitter.com/UHCougarTF?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@UHCougarTF</a> star Seun Adigun and her Nigerian Bobsed teammates...first bobsled team from Africa, male or female, to qualify for the Winter Olympics. Fantastic! <a href="https://t.co/AWgxoyQdvM">pic.twitter.com/AWgxoyQdvM</a>—@DTGoteraKHOU
Meet the first Nigeria Women's Bobsled Team:<br><br>Seun Adigun (Driver) rep'd Nigeria in 100mH at London 2012, began training for bobsled in 2014<br>Ngozi Onwumere (Breakmen) won a Silver & Gold medal at the 2015 AAG <br>Akuoma Omeoga (Breakmen) will be representing Nigeria for first time <a href="https://t.co/QFqeFRZ5So">pic.twitter.com/QFqeFRZ5So</a>—@Jololade
In a recent interview with NBC posted to Onwumere's Instagram account, the team said most people are surprised to learn that they do the bulk of their training in warm weather.
Their unprecedented feat appears to have inspired and perplexed many, and of course, references to Cool Runnings were inevitable.
A Nigerian bobsled team? Have they ever seen snow in Nigeria?—@DelDiablo007
Nigeria has a bobsled team.... this country continues to amaze me! 🇳🇬🇳🇬🇳🇬—@GeekySneaks
🎵 nuff people say they know they cant believe,<br>nigeria we have a bobsled team 🎵 <a href="https://t.co/MGY2AQrkPd">https://t.co/MGY2AQrkPd</a>—@aWickNotSnuffed
"Cool Runnings 2 Nigeria." <a href="https://t.co/Q8CSvc2ItE">https://t.co/Q8CSvc2ItE</a>—@mjtfreeze
👏👏👏😍❤️does it snow in Nigeria .? Bring me all the way back to the 🇯🇲 Jamaican bobsled team👏👏❤️ <a href="https://t.co/7lPtOkTaWs">https://t.co/7lPtOkTaWs</a>—@charmaineja4
- An earlier edition of this story said the team had qualified for the PyeongChang Olympics. While they have met the racing standard, official qualification will not be determined until January.Nov 17, 2017 4:49 PM ET
with files from Reuters