In January 2018, Nigerians were thrilled with the news of four of our very own who had qualified for the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea. One of them would go on to become Africa’s first ever female olympic skeleton athlete, after barely four months of training.
She is Simidele Adeagbo, the 36-year-old Nigerian who made Africa proud, despite not making a podium finish at PyeongChang 2018.
Born in Canada, Adeagbo spent her early years in Nigeria before moving to the US aged six.
The Nigerian gave herself to much training and grew to become a four-time NCAA All American and triple-jump record holder for the University of Kentucky, with an ambition to one day join the US Track and Field team.
During tryouts for the Beijing 2008 Olympics, Adeagbo came just within an inch of qualification despite making a personal best of of 13.99 meters — a leap that no American could replicate at the Games that year.
Distraught by her failure to make the team, the Nigerian closed the door to athletics for the next decade. In 2016 Adeagbo would once again pick up interest in a sport, and this time it was one much more dangerous than anything she had done her entire life — she would run for 30m before launching herself onto a brakeless 62-pound stainless steel sled.
While in Johannesburg, South Africa, Adeagbo heard of the story of the three Nigerian ladies who were raising funds to become Africa’s first entrants into Bobsled and Skeleton. Challenged by their audacity, the Nigerian made contact with the team and found out that the Nigerian Bobsled and Skeleton Federation was holding general trials in Texas.
With over 10 years of track and field background, Adeagbo travelled to Houston for the test, needless to say she made the team.
To qualify for Pyeongchang, the Nigerian had to complete a minimum of five qualification races on three different tracks, and make it into the top 45 in the skeleton world ranking, which she did.
In January, Adeagbo proved herself to the world at the North American Cup, staged in Lake Placid, New York, where she secured consecutive top-three finishes, defeating competitors from Canada and the US.
Though she was not able to replicate this feat at the Olympics in February, she made her way not just into the hearts of Nigerians, but her name will forever resonate in history as the first African woman to compete in Skeleton at the Olympics.
Featured Image Source: Making of Champions