Seun Adigun was born on January 3, 1987, in Chicago, Illinois. A Nigerian-American, she was a bobsledder and track and field athlete who preferred to represent her ancestral homeland of Nigeria. In 2010, she won gold at the African Championships for the 100 meter hurdle, followed by gold in the 2011 Maputo African Games. She also attempted to attend the 2012 Summer Olympics, but did not qualify for the games.
Ngozi Onwumere is also a Nigerian-American, born on January 23, 1992 in Mesquite, Texas. A sprinter and bobsledder, Ngozi also chose to represent Nigeria internationally, at the 2012 Summer Olympics for the 100 meter hurdles and the 2015 All-Africa Games where she won gold in the 4 times 100 meter relay and silver in the 200 meter relay
Akuomo Omeoga was born on June 22, 1992, in St. Paul. She was raised immersed in Nigerian culture, and has dual citizenship. Both of her parents came to the United States to attend college. Akuomo was originally a track and field athlete, who graduated from the University of Minnesota and was employed at Wells Fargo when she made the decision to quit, move to Houston, and travel the world. While in Houston, Akuomo met Seun, who invited her to join the bobsled team she was forming with Ngozi.
The Nigerian bobsled team began in 2015, while Seun was training as brakewoman for the USA bobsled team. Realizing her second home, Nigeria, needed the sport, she says the “humanitarian” in her knew establishing a Nigerian bobsled team was something she had to do. The next year, the girls founded the Nigerian bobsled team using GoFundMe, which helped her raise $150,000 to fund the dream and cover their participation fees, training gear, and ice time for practices. The success of their self-funded effort led the Nigerian government to establish the Bobsled & Skeleton Federation of Nigeria in order to govern the sport.
The girls used a wooden sled that Seun built and named the Mayflower in order to practice on a variety of turf and track surfaces. They qualified for the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea, representing Nigeria in the 2-woman bobsled. Together, the girls became the first African team in bobsled and were the first Nigerians represented at the Winter Olympics. During the opening ceremony, Ngozi carried the Nigerian flag while marching with her teammates.
For the bobsled, it was decided that Seun would steer while Akuomo would be the motor, getting the sled moving by sprinting 40 meters and then, while running at full tilt, jumping in behind Seun, tucking her head to her knees, and counting the 22 curves until they reached the finish line, when Akuomo would pull the brake. Ngozi served as backup. As Akuomo stated in an interview, she cannot see during the race, as they approach speeds of 90 miles per hour. The girl equate the bobsled race to giving a 16-year-old boy with a new driver’s license permission to race in the Daytona 500.
Despite their efforts, the Nigerian team finished last among 20 teams in the Winter Olympics. Yet they gained a global audience, appearing on television shows and news outlets. After the games, the girls retired from sports but pledged to help develop bobsledding in Nigeria, along with other winter sports.
Reflecting on the experience, an article in Huffington Post stated, “It created a ripple as the trio inspired Simidele Adeagbo to break a barrier of her own, becoming the first skeleton racer to represente Nigeria…” in the 2018 Olympics. Seun stated in the article, “It takes a special type of individual to take on a fear of the unknown. And that is exactly what we are trying to show people that you can do. People from a sub-Saharan climate can do anything. There’s just way too much innovation in this world for people to think they need to be limited to their own environments.”
Notably, Seun is the first African to compete in both the Summer and Winter games, which has helped create opportunities for women. She is now a chiropractor and serves as a brand ambassador for Toyota and Visa, among others. She is also active in charity, mentoring high school students, leading high school bobsled teams, and fundraising for children and youth causes.