Yes; it is true! 30 years after the Jamaican men and film ‘Cool Runnings’, this Nigerian-American Women’s Go Fund Me team of former track stars had set out on a mission to put Africa on the map for a cold winter sport. The United States long Olympic history in summer and winter games gives them unique attention in our media. They made the rounds including the Ellen DeGeneres show, dancing their way onto the stage and into our hearts. They were ‘fun loving’ but the back story was about incredible hard work and sacrifice made to move from track and field, transitioning into bobsledding, going from zero to 100 to learn and qualify for the 2018 Winter Olympics in a few short years.
The imaginative force behind this effort was also the driver of the bobsled, Seun Adigen. Her vision and a hand-made wooden practice bobsled was the beginning of a journey with a goal to make it to the Olympics. Their story is unique in that they are American born and educated children of Nigerian parents. They represented Nigeria in track and field in the Olympics in 100 meters. Apparently track stars are most adept to the bobsled sport. In the case of the American team, they are sought after talent. Seun Adigen then recruited two Nigerian-American women former track stars to join the team. They gave up normal activities so many at their age enjoy. Instead they put their focus on going for a mission of qualifying in bobsledding for the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. They achieved that first step. All in great spirits brakemen, Ngozi Onwumere, on left in drawing, and Akuoma Omeoga had great synergy to commit to the work and be actively engaged with the marketing and getting sponsors. They would travel to Nigeria for TV interviews and promotional support. They raised enough money to travel and obtain their own bobsled. They also formed a federation for bobsledding in Nigeria. While the warm climate continent had only eight countries participate in the 2018 Olympics, most Africans don’t even have the Winter Olympics on their radar screens. This is truly a mission of significant proportions, yet it brought great pride to Nigeria.
As it turns out, they were last (20th) in the Olympics behind the Gold Medalist from Germany, off by 7 seconds, if you can imagine the 19 others including 3rd from finish, Jamaica, that were competing. Yes, after 30 years there was the first women’s bobsled team from Jamaica. Despite drama of one team member leaving with the bobsled and scrambling to get another they actually beat the Nigerian team by two spots. A closer look at this fierce competition of milliseconds made up the differences between the final medalist teams. In the final runs, the Americans were most destined to win the gold. They were well positioned and had the best success record. After three runs though, Afro-German driver, Mariama Jamanka, of the Germany team had the highest average scoring runs to win the gold medal; the African-American team (Elana Meyers Taylor and Laura Gibbs) got silver, and the Canadian bronze team winners had, Phylicia George a brakeman, an Afro-Canadian member.
Go figure, of the six finalists (two to a team) four were of African descent. As the Nigerian team got our attention in the states. Jamaica (Carrie Russell and Jazmine Fenlator-Victorian) were also making history despite their disappointing relationship with a German coach, who owned and took the bobsled upon unexpectedly quitting during the Olympics. Something they amazingly overcame, even though third from last. T
he Global Afro Woman, has much to be proud of in dominating the 2018 Olympic bobsledding event. We are very proud of her determination and competitive spirits. Congratulations my protagonists!
Art and article by Lillian L Thompson for Lillianonline