Nigeria’s women’s bobsled team: We are just three regular girls who have now made history

nigeria women bobsled team
When you are the first person to do something, there is no blueprint Click To Tweet

No African country has represented the sport of bobsled at the Winter Olympics, but that’s about to change thanks to three women aiming to represent Nigeria. Seun Adigun, Ngozi Onwumere and Akuoma Omeoga are shaping history to become Nigeria’s first women’s bobsled team.

Seun, Ngozi and Akuoma are established athletes and are engaged in many hustles. Ngozi has background work experience in the mortgage industry and is now a full-time student pursuing a Doctoral degree. Akuoma is the brakeman for the Nigerian Women’s Bobsled Team and also works as a healthcare recruiter. Seun is the driver of the team and also currently a chiropractic student. Seun is studying for a dual degree of a Doctorate of Chiropractic from Texas Chiropractic College and a Masters of Science in Exercise & Health Science University of Houston Clear Lake.

Teamwork and support have been integral in giving the women of Nigeria’s bobsled team confidence as they work towards success.

Why a bobsled team? How did you decide to come together to do this?

Seun: After realizing that my participation as a brakeman on the United States women’s bobsled team had grown to be far larger than me, I knew this was something I had to do. I noticed my ability to potentially empower and positively influence millions of people resided in my decision to give back to the country of Nigeria. I knew I possessed the resources and connections to get it done.

The sport of bobsled was looking to grow and the continent of Africa had never been represented in the sport of bobsled. Once I finalized my decision to take on this mission, I knew I would need teammates so I reached out to these lovely women, Ngozi and Akuoma.

I noticed my ability to potentially empower & positively influence people - Seun Adigun Click To Tweet

Ngozi: Bobsled chose us! Well essentially Seun chose us to be apart of her amazing vision and from then on we made the decision to embark on an experience that would grow beyond us. Seun (who is also my former coach) and I have our annual lunches, at this one particular she brought up bobsled.

Honestly, I needed something new and refreshing. I had just made the decision to hang up my spikes and had come off of a trying season competing for Nigeria in track and field attempting the Summer Olympics 2016. So when Seun presented this option to me, I was stoked and pleasantly surprised. Still, this didn’t become reality for me until we actually had our first practice and touched Seun’s wooden self-made sled, “The Mayflower”.

Akuoma: Bobsled came out of the blue for me. I was familiar with the sport being that a coach of mine had been involved with the sort. My participation came out of Seun Adigun asking me to join this mission. I accepted and I was the third piece to the puzzle.

How has been your experiences as African women in sport? What unique challenges have you encountered?

Seun: So far the experience has been very rewarding as we have been receiving endless support and positive energy as we take on this task. The most challenging thing so far has just been navigating the unknown and doing it fearlessly.

When you are the first person to do something, there is no blueprint for the optimal plan of action —you just have to trust God and work through the process one step at a time.

Ngozi: As a Nigerian-American woman, I have been embraced by my teammates and by other aspiring athletes, Nigerians and just women in general. Challenges will always come when you are embarking on something completely new but we have adapted very well. With

With us all being women with very high demand schedules, there have been some challenges in accommodating everything but we do quite well. Also, the learning curve of learning a completely new sport has been challenging but we aim to conquer.

Akuoma: My experience has been the same as it has always been. Growing up I had always been active in sports and so have many other Nigerians that I grew up with. So being a Nigerian girl in a sport was pretty normal.

I think the biggest challenge with this sport in particular, is that there isn’t a lot of awareness. So taking myself along with everyone else I know on this huge learning curve has been a bit challenging.

I had always been active so being a Nigerian girl in a sport was pretty normal - Akuoma Omeoga Click To Tweet
Photo credit: Obi Grant
Photo credit: Obi Grant

So far you’re yet to practice on snow or with a bobsled, how confident are you in securing a place at the Olympics?

Seun: I have spent time on ice as both a brakeman and a driver —and that is the most important thing. As the driver, the success of the team resides in my ability to drive the sled from the top of the hill to the bottom. I have already successfully completed two driving schools this season on two separate tracks over the course of three weeks.

With that, I can now compete in a race on either of these tracks, putting us in position to start the qualification process. This is a great confidence boost for the team because we now have something to look forward to.

Our confidence is additionally fueled by our relationship with one another. We trust each other and that has taken us a long way in accountability and commitment. Our wooden sled has given us the opportunity to simulate sled conditions bringing our chemistry together and reproducing race scenarios.

Ngozi: I think there is much to be said about mental preparation as this plays a big part in physical preparation. Although we have not yet been on ice, we have the perfect mentor to take advice from (Seun) as she was in the same positon last year. Not to mention having two women in the same boat as you gives you a sense of security. With positive thoughts, you aim for positive results.

This whole campaign was built on positivity and this is what drives my confidence. I am here to be a student of the sport and good students apply themselves and have the ability to conquer anything.

Having two women in the same boat as you gives you a sense of security - Ngozi Onwumere Click To Tweet

Akuoma: Seun had mentioned to us several times that we will more than likely not get on ice until the practice runs before competition days. The wooden sled helps us prepare for the technical aspects of the sport, so that way when we get on ice we will feel confident.

As far as qualifying, we really just take things one day at a time. As long as we work smart, the sky is the limit. Also, my team drives my confidence. I think that we all feel that we are all capable. That is key to having a successful team.

Any words of advice for women who would like to try something new and challenging but are scared of failure?

Ngozi: You never know you can succeed unless you try. When you try, give effort as if you already have. We say this often because it’s true, we are just three regular girls who have now made history.

You can do whatever you truly believe you can. We see this time and time again. Failure is nothing when positivity is your backbone.

Akuoma: It’s all about challenging yourself and taking things as they come. Be open to giving yourself chances rather than attempting it once before deciding you can’t do something.

Seun: The fear of the unknown is something that lives within all of us, but impossible is nothing. Our greatest limitation is our inability to intrinsically overcome this fear, but there is no need to self-handicap.

We are truly amazing and strong, especially as women, and defying odds is what we are created to do. Take chances in life and maximize opportunities. Things can always appear impossible – until you successfully achieve it.

The sky is the limit for the women of Nigeria's bobsled team Click To Tweet

The team’s story gets compared to the Jamaican movie Cool Runnings a lot, how do that make you feel?

Ngozi: It is such an honor to be compared to athletes who paved ways. They made a legacy and we aim to do the same for Nigeria, anywhere you leave your imprint, there will always be longevity in relationships and intercrossing of paths

Akuoma: It feels great to know that people are making that comparison being that Jamaica really put bobsled on the map for a lot of people. It’s good to know that people are excited about it.

Seun: It is an honorary comparison. These are men whom people continue to sing their praises almost 30 years after they took a leap of faith and changed the sport of bobsled. To be compared to people of that caliber is a true blessing.

Do you plan to focus on bobsled for the rest of your careers?

Akuoma: Six months ago I had no idea that I would be doing bobsled. So it is hard for me to predict what will happen 6 months from now. However, it’s definitely something I am excited to keep growing in and conquering this journey.

Seun: After bobsled, I will be a doctor or chiropractic practicing amongst the elite and professional athletes. My career path will l continue in the sports but will focus on injury prevention, rehabilitation, exercise physiology, and biomechanics.

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The mind of a champion: Lessons from Blessing Okagbare and Serena Williams

Sport champions like Blessing Okagbare and Serena Williams are perfect examples of how each of us, as entrepreneurs and professionals, can attain greatness when we aim to improve our personal best.

Blessing is a Nigerian track and field athlete, who is an Olympic and IAAF World Championships medalist in the long jump, and a world medalist in the 200 metres. Serena is undeniably one of the most dominating sports champions of our generation. She has won a title in all four International Grand Slam tournaments and is also an Olympic gold medalist.

Blessing’s Olympic medal wins and Serena’s tennis successes serve as reminders of excellence to all of us. They have spent many years training to be champions. Along the way, they have achieved multiple milestones, actively taken part in smaller competitions and peaked at the right moment. When they put their hard-earned skills into practice and keep their eyes on the prize, it’s their time to shine.

As entrepreneurs what lessons can we learn from these phenomenal women?

Keep training


Like every successful athlete, successful entrepreneurs must never stop training. That means keeping your skills fresh and your talents sharpened, so that you’re always one step ahead of the competition.

Keep learning, networking and trying to improve yourself and your business. The process is continual but it is powerful and fun if you love what you are doing.

Have a support system

Venus and Serena HuggingEvery champion has a team behind them. You can’t do everything on your own. Especially when training is getting difficult or the competition is tough. Build a strong network that will support you and help you reach the top.

If you do not have a mentor find one, or at the very least seek role models who will inspire you. Make sure those who are part of your team hold you accountable and keep you focused.

Celebrate your achievements

Blessing-OkagbareWhat moment are you seeking? As you strive to attain greatness, ask yourself at what point will you feel like you’ve won your Gold Medal or Trophy.

Never forget that no matter how much competition is out there, or how long it takes to achieve YOUR own personal best, each and every one of us can get a medal. So go out there and get it!

It is easy to discount all your achievements as you seek even better ones, but don’t overlook your moment. When your moment comes, make sure you celebrate!

I’m really exciting. I smile a lot, I win a lot, and I’m really sexy.”
– Serena Williams

Do not fear competition

Serena Williams Sports Illustrated CoverKeep your eyes on the prize in your business and professional life. Have clearly defined strategies and goals that will make you a champion. In his book, The Winner’s Mind, Allen Fox explains, “Unconscious fear of failure saps the will to win by distorting perceptions and causing competitors to hesitate to compete, procrastinate, lie to themselves, blame others, fail to finish tasks, and panic on the verge of victory.”  

Do not fear competition. As entrepreneurs competition is necessary and mandatory in the marketplace. It will help to motivate you to be better. Use it to empower yourself along the way and do not be afraid of winning!

Learn from your mistakes

Being in business isn’t about never failing, it’s about knowing what to do when failure strikes! You must not allow failure to block your path to excellence. When a sportswoman like Blessing loses a race, do you think she laments about her loss for so long that it stops her from running?

No, she stays focused, perfects her skills and works harder. It’s the same with Serena. If she misses a serve or loses a match she does not let her mistakes consume her. She uses her mistakes as stepping stones to doing better the next time.