Nigeria's three Olympic bobsledders are (from left) Akuoma Omeoga, Ngozi Onwumere and Seun Adigun.
Nigeria's three Olympic bobsledders are (from left) Akuoma Omeoga, Ngozi Onwumere and Seun Adigun.
Ngozi Onwumere via Instagram

Texas-Flavored Nigerian Bobsled Team Will Leave South Korea With Heads High But No Medal

Without Texas, there wouldn't have be a Nigerian bobsled team at the 2018 Olympics. In 2016, Seun Adigun, a University of Houston track coach and former track and field Olympian, recruited Mesquite's Ngozi Onwumere — who served as Nigeria's flag-bearer in the games' opening ceremonies — to form Nigeria's first bobsled team.

Over the next two years, Adigun, Onwumere and the third member of their team, Akuoma Omeoga of St. Paul, Minnesota, trained, raised funds and qualified for the games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. The athletes completed their first two runs on the Olympic track, becoming the first team representing an African nation to compete in bobsled at the Olympics. (Here are some highlights. We'd have embedded them, but the International Olympic Committee is very stingy with video. You can enjoy some footage of the team on The Ellen Degeneres Show below.)

The good news so far is that the Nigerian sled, piloted by Adigun, made it all the way down the slick, fast Korean track twice without any big mistakes. The bad news is that the team is in last place, 20th, heading into the competition's final two runs Wednesday night. It finished 3.5 seconds behind the leading Germans in a sport in which winners and losers are split by hundredths of a second.


“I don’t think it’s hit us how impactful this whole process will be in the long run,” Adigun told reporters after the race,

according to The Guardian

. “You don’t have to quantify things by just the result of first place, second place or any time. You can actually quantify it by your ability to be selfless, your ability to drive and your ability to be innovative. This was just meant to be.”

With Adigun, Onwumere and Omeoga's finish off the podium, Africa remains without medals in the Winter Olympics, which made their debut in 1924. But eight African countries, including Nigeria and Eritrea for the first time, sent a total of 12 athletes to this year's Olympics, the most in Winter Games history. Athletes from Ghana and Nigeria competed in skeleton, luge's face-first cousin, and Mialitiana Clerc, a 16-year-old Alpine skier, was the first woman to compete for Madagascar.

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