A 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 history as a member of the first Nigerian contingent to one of the world’s most prestigious competitive sporting events.
The trio of Seun Adigun, Ngozi Onwumere and Akuoma Omeoga have already secured their berths at the Winter Olympics which will be taking place from February, 9 to 25.
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.
The winter Olympic hopeful, who is training without the help of a trainer or coach spends a lot of time in the gym.
Reflecting on what could turn out to be a potentially defining moment in the annals of Winter Olympics for African female athletes, Adeagbo said: “When I retired from track and field, I didn’t expect that I would have a second chance at the Olympics — and I would have never thought that I’d be a winter Olympian. But when I saw the article about the bobsled ladies, it wasn’t so much my personal Olympic dreams that grabbed me, it was more of the meaningful nature of what they were trying to accomplish that really inspired me.
“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.”
Adeagbo is currently ranked 84th in the world.
In order to qualify in skeleton for PyeongChang, an athlete has to be the top athlete in the sport from his/her country and must have competed in five races on three different tracks in the last two seasons.
She will compete in her final qualifying race on January 11, 2018, in Lake Placid, New York. Qualifiers will be announced from January 14 to 16.
If she gets it, she will join the three Nigerian women bobsledders who recently became the first athletes from Africa to qualify for the Olympics in the sport, and Nigeria will have its first and biggest-ever Winter Olympics representation in PyeongChang, South Korea.
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