ShareThis Page
Olympics

Nigerians make momentous Olympic bobsled debut

| Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018, 8:11 p.m.

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — Nigeria was winning the Olympic women's bobsled race.

Yes, really.

The Nigerians were the second sled down the track in the opening heat of the women's competition at the PyeongChang Olympics, and over the first few turns of the course they were going faster than the Korean sled that preceded them.

So yes, they were winning.

“I know!” pilot Seun Adigun shrieked afterward, overjoyed by the notion.

Of course, after that quick flirtation with the lead, their sled bounced off the roof and commenced the inevitable freefall to last place.

Briefly leading, finishing last, none of that was the point. Simply getting to the Olympics has been victory enough for this Nigerian team, three women who live in the U.S. and have backgrounds in other sports before deciding to try sliding — and now, officially, are the first bobsled to represent Africa on the sport's biggest stage.

“There were some good things,” Adigun said. “One of the biggest things that we're trying to do from the beginning is show people how important that it is to be selfless and what it means to also do something bigger than yourself. And I think that that right there has been the objective and what people have been able to receive from our time here at the Olympics.”

The final two runs are Wednesday night. For the Nigerian sled to not finish last, they will need someone ahead of them to make a massive mistake.

Again, that's irrelevant.

They have been rock stars at these Olympics, for all the right reasons. Athletes of all sorts — male, female, white, black — have wanted hugs and selfies, which is all the vindication the Nigerians have needed to show that this foray was worthwhile.

“It's great to see that,” U.S. bobsledder and 2014 bronze medalist Aja Evans said of the added diversity Nigeria's presence brings to a sliding world that has seen plenty of athletes of color make serious splashes over the last couple decades. “The world's finally catching up and realizing the potential all across the board. It's amazing to be a part of that.”

There's what is known as a “mixed zone” for reporter-athlete interaction at the Olympics, a space where athletes parade past electronic and print media for a series of interviews after their events. When the Nigerians were done, the overwhelming majority of the media contingent left with them — long before the leaders of the race showed up for their interviews.

“When people talk about sports right now, they're talking about bobsled,” Nigeria brakeman Akuoma Omeoga said.

Most, it seems, are talking about Nigerian bobsled.

And that simply blows Adigun's expectations away.

“We still are trying to cope with it,” Adigun said. “We like to be more low-key, but we know that when we came into this whole process it was to bring awareness. If people are excited about that, we can't now revert back and get into our shell.”

A planned visit to North Korea by a high-level delegation from the South will come amid a rare moment of good will between the rivals stemming from the recent Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.
A planned visit to North Korea by a high-level delegation from the South will come amid a rare moment of good will between the rivals stemming from the recent Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.
Driver Seun Adigun, right, and Akuoma Omeoga of Nigeria finish their second heat during the women's two-man bobsled competition at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
Driver Seun Adigun, right, and Akuoma Omeoga of Nigeria finish their second heat during the women's two-man bobsled competition at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me