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NEWS FEATURE The hype is over: Nigerian women's bobsled team slide into action By Andre Leslie, dpa

Europe, Europa
By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
After being celebrated on US television and launching a successful crowdfunding campaign, Nigeria‘s women‘s bobsled team will finally hit the ice on Tuesday. The team‘s meagre experience is built on top-level athletics.

Pyeongchang, South Korea (dpa) - Following months of hype surrounding their debut at the Pyeongchang Olympics, Nigeria‘s two-woman bobsled team will finally kick into action on Tuesday at the Olympic Sliding Centre.

A day before competition, in front of a handful of coaches and media, pilot Seun Adigun and brakeman Ngozi Onwumere finished last in both final training sessions before their Games debut.

"Every day we‘ve just been chipping away," says Adigun after her second run through the course. "In every process, especially one that is new, there are going to be challenges."

"This is such a learning curve for us being here," she adds. "We have to start somewhere. We have to set the basis and build from there."

Adigun knows what she is talking about when she talks of building things up. Some 15 months ago she started a fundraising website, trying to secure 75,000 dollars in donations, to get her and her bobsled team to the Games.

The campaign worked, and now, beside skeleton athlete Simidele Adeagbo, the female bobsledders form the only members of Nigeria‘s first Winter Olympics team.

"We spend time visiting Nigeria even though we reside in the States," Adigun explains. "Everything that we know culturally-wise is Nigerian - that‘s just how we were raised. That‘s our connection with the country."

The three-member team - Akuoma Omeoga is expected to start as brakeman on Tuesday - all have an athletics background. Adigun has even been to the Olympics before, as a hurdler in 2012, while Onwumere sprinted for Nigeria.

"Athletics is the basis that you need to get into the sport comfortably," brakeman Onwumere says, adding that the track and field training helped her "to take the good and do away with the bad."

"You just have to get better each time," she says.

Although no medals are expected from Team Nigeria in the bobsled event, the two athletes say their presence at the Games is already raising awareness back in Nigeria for what the sport is all about.

The fact that they are based in Houston, does not detract from the support "back home" in Nigeria, according to Onwumere.

"The reception has just been overwhelming and everyone is just happy to have representation - and to be able to see people that look like them, here at the Olympics," she says.

"We are super happy to positively represent Nigeria in all African countries."


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(21.06.2018 08:39)

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