The members of the first-ever Nigerian bobsled team at a Winter Olympics and their skeleton athlete counterpart got a rousing reception at the Nigerian Breweries HQ Bar on Thursday evening. Top management and staff of Nigerian Breweries Plc, which Star beer brand is sponsoring the team to the Olympics; the media and sports loving members of the public were on hand to welcome the inspiring young women to the country.
While welcoming the Olympians and those present, Marketing Director of the company, Franco Maria Maggi, said that Star beer, as the first lager brewed in Nigeria, identifies with the pioneering spirit of excellence that the four amazing Nigerian women represent.
“The zeal to go on and shine in the face of uncertainty, in an uncharted terrain, deeply resonates with us and we are very delighted to be able to support these great athletes in making this dream of participating and winning in Pyeongchang come true,” he said.
The history making team comprising of Seun Adigun, Ngozi Onwumere and Akuoma Omeoga for bobsled, and Simi Adeagbo, the lone skeleton athlete, were as excited as the horde that came to get a glimpse of them. Not only did they dance to the platform when they were invited by Comedian Gbenga Adeyinka 1st the anchor of the event for a question and answer session, they were all smiles throughout the duration of the event.
They may be the centre of such a historic event as representing Nigeria and indeed, Africa at this month’s Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang but they had no airs about them. They took all the questions thrown at them with candour displaying a huge sense of humour, and Seun, whose father was present, even involved him at a time when she got him to respond to the question of how their parents felt when they ventured into the sports some view as dangerous. Like Simi’s response earlier that her mum approached it with prayer, Mr. Adigun said that was also the case in their household but was thankful to God that they were here today. She had of course approached her mum first to soften the way before breaking the news to her father.
The team that has been getting a lot of attention all over the world revealed that since the idea to go to the Winter Olympics concretised the response they have gotten is beyond their wildest imaginings.
Recall that to come this far, they started a GoFund Me campaign in 2016 from which they raised more than $75,000 in 14 months to pay for necessities like helmets, uniforms, travel and their first sled made of wood which they christened ‘The Maeflower’. They have been practising ever since, starting even when there was no snow in their base in Houston.
Simi, who like the members of the bobsled team was born in the United States of America of Nigerian parentage, particularly called attention to the fact that before now she had tried more than once to represent the USA at the Olympics in triple jump. Concluding that the time had come for her to be at the games, she explained that she was thankful to God for the opportunity. Seun and her counterparts used to be runners.
The, ladies, who qualified for the games after completing and winning five qualifying races, also told the story of how the Bobsled and Skeleton Federation of Nigeria was formed by their interest in the games and were full of thanks to Temple Management for helping to set that up. They were especially thankful to Nigerian Breweries for the Star beer sponsorship and particular glad that Nigerians are excited about their role in the country’s history.
The Winter Olympic Games 2018 will take place from February 9 to 25 in Pyeongchang, South Korea and Ngozi promised that she and her team would be dancing in the Nigerian way at the opening ceremony. Nigerians, and the rest of the world, cannot wait to see that.
Bobsled is a winter sport in which teams of two or four teammates make timed runs down narrow, twisting, banked, iced tracks in a gravity-powered sled. While Skeleton is a winter sliding sport in which a person rides a small sled, known as a skeleton bobsled, down a frozen track while lying face down.