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Simidele set to make history at Winter Olympics

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Nigerian athlete, Simidele Adeagbo, is just one race away from qualifying for the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, in the sport of skeleton. If she is successful, she will make Olympic history as a member of the first Nigerian contingent to one of the world’s most prestigious competitive sporting events. The skeleton is a winter sliding sport in which a person rides a small sled, known as a skeleton bobsled or sleigh, down a frozen track while lying face down.

Adeagbo, a four-time NCAA All American and triple jump record holder for the University of Kentucky, competed in her last major track and field competition in June of 2008. She had nursed the ambition of competing at the Olympics but was unsuccessful at the trials and thus hung up her boots.

The 36-year old Nigerian athlete however revived her ambition to compete at the Olympics about 10 years later. Her journey to a possible participation at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics in South Korea commenced in December 2016, when she first heard of the Nigerian women’s bobsled team.

She said: “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.” Adeagbo sent a message to the bobsled team inquiring if she could be a fourth member. The team had just three women and from what she knew, bobsled is a four-person sport.

The women however replied, informing her that bobsled is a four-person sport for men, but a two-person sport for women. They informed her their team was complete. Several months later, there was a potential window of opportunity for participation at the winter Olympics. In July 2017, Adeagbo saw an Instagram post announcing trials by the Nigerian Bobsled and Skeleton Federation in Houston, Texas. She then travelled to Houston, arriving in the morning of tryouts and competed in the trials.

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