Nigeria Sends Off Olympic Bobsled Team With A Party
Nigerians met their Winter Olympic bobsled team for the first time just one week before the start of the Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Thirty years after a Jamaican squad became a global sensation, the trio of Nigerian women Seun Adigun, Ngozi Onwumere and Akuoma Omeoga will become the first African bobsleigh team in Winter Olympic history.
Born to Nigerian parents they all live in the United States but travelled to Lagos for a rousing Nigerian send-off on Friday night at a corporate reception held in their honour at a luxury hotel.
Their qualification late last year for the February 9-25 Games has since attracted massive interest around the world and won the previously crowd-funded athletes a string of big-name sponsors.
Many people in Africa’s most populous nation said they were unaware the country even had a bobsled team. Some were keen to play up their supposed ignorance for comic effect.
“So, you are the driver?” the comedian compering the event said, pointing at Adigun.
“And you are the brake… appliers,” he ventured eagerly to Onwumere and Omeoga, as if searching for the correct terminology. “And what is that thing you are pushing? A wheelbarrow?”
“First question,” he asked the women’s team-mate Simi Adeagbo, who will also make history by becoming the first African to compete in the skeleton. “What is that?”
Despite being new to hurtling down an icy track at 150 kilometres (93 miles) per hour, Nigerians — noted more for their passion for football — are happy to cheer the team on.
On the hotel’s rooftop bar, with temperatures still in the mid-30s Celsius (95 Fahrenheit) by late evening, guests drank champagne and ate “small chop” (finger food). Dance music distorted through a skyscraper of loud-speakers. Most people arrived late. Everyone blamed bad traffic.
But Nigeria’s pioneering winter sports team were made to feel at home with fairy lights and Christmas snowflake decorations twinkling overhead, above white plastic sheeting stuck to the floor with gaffer tape.