Simidele Adeagbo becomes the first African woman to compete in the Skeleton category of the Winter Olympics.
Simidele Adeagbo, who will be joining the historic Nigerian bobsled team at the 2018 Winter Olympics, qualified after coming 3rd in her 5th qualifying race.
36-year-old Adeagbo is currently ranked 84th in the world, although she first time she ever touched a skeleton sled was in September 2017.
She is a 4-time NCAA All American and triple jump record holder for the University of Kentucky, and had nursed but ultimately dumped an ambition to of competing at the Olympics, hanging her boots in 2008.
Her ambition had been revived in 2016, after hearing about a Nigerian bobsled team planning on competing in the PyeongChang Winter Olympics in South Korea.
“I read an article about how the women had this audacious goal of becoming Africa’s first-ever bobsled team to go to the Winter Olympics. I was super inspired, and instantly thought, I wonder if I could be a part of that?
So, when I saw that, I was thinking, maybe they need a fourth person and maybe that fourth person could be me because there’s a history of track and field athletes going into bobsled.”
But after she inquired from the team if she could be the fourth member, she heard back from them saying while bobsled is a 4-person sport for men, it is a 2-person sport for women.
In 2017, another opportunity surfaced. She saw on Instagram a call for tryouts by the Nigerian Bobsled and Skeleton Federation in Houston, Texas.
She had packed her bags and traveled to Houston, arriving on the morning of the tryouts and competing in the evening.
She got a call from the federation weeks later, she said, asking her to show up in camp in Canada.
According to Simidele Adeagbo:
“I honestly didn’t know much about the sport, but knew that there was a lot that I could draw from my track and field background to help me succeed in it. You run as fast as you can for about 30 meters to gain momentum before you launch into or onto something. I was able to pick up the push start very, very quickly because I already had that experience with the runway of triple jump.
Where I really have the advantage is only for a very short amount of time, four or five seconds of the race. But the track is a mile long, so the race will last another 50 seconds.
Ultimately, for me, this is about breaking barriers in winter sports. It’s about making history. And leaving a legacy. It’s about moving sport forward. That’s so much bigger than just me being an Olympian.”