The 1993 Disney film Cool Runnings, starring the legendary Canadian comedic actor John Candy, told the curious story about the national bobsled team of Jamaica and the squad’s unlikely appearance in the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics. Although the premise of Cool Runnings was based on the oddity of a bobsled—or bobsleigh—squad hailing from a Caribbean island and competing at the highest level despite not having lived experiencing ice or snow, the real story was about athletic perseverance, and that is exactly what prompted the national women’s bobsled team of Nigeria to qualify for the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang.
Not many African athletes participate in winter sports; in fact, Akuoma Omeoga, Ngozi Onwumere and Seun Adigun are the first Nigerians in history to qualify for the Winter Olympics. As can be expected, the road to PyeongChang was not an easy feat for these athletic African queens. Not only did they have to travel far from the Continent to qualify, but the team members had to compete against their counterparts from nations such as Germany, known for skilled bobsledders who can pretty much win races with their eyes closed.
After qualifying runs in cold mountain towns in the United States and Canada, the Nigerians shared the good news of their qualification via an Instagram post, a move that makes sense in a country where social media rules communications.
Even More Parallels to “Cool Runnings”
Naturally, news about the Nigerian bobsled team has traveled around the world for various reasons. First of all, the team members are stunning, beautiful women; second, there is an interesting parallel to the aforementioned film, which starts with a Jamaican sprinter who fails to qualify for the Summer Olympics due to a bumbling team member who trips, falls and ends up wiping out fellow team members during a 100-meter race. In the Disney film, this mishap prompts the frustrated sprinter to try out the Winter Olympics instead; in real life, Seun Adigun is a former track star who ran for the University of Houston and for Nigeria in the 2012 London Olympics. Adigun’s strength and speed makes her an ideal bobsled driver because she is in charge of executing the initial push and sprint.
Although Nigeria is no stranger to Olympic medals, people from across the country have high hopes that their dear bobsledders will manage to bring hardware back from South Korea. It would be an unprecedented feat for African athletes who, like their Caribbean counterparts, do not get many opportunities to practice winter sports.