We’re calling it now: The stars of the 2018 Winter Olympics will be the members of the Nigerian women’s bobsled team and skeleton athlete. Not only are the bobsledders the first bobsled team to compete in the Olympics from their home country — they’re the first in all of Africa.
So far, they’ve been some of the most visible athletes of the games, appearing in media throughout the world, including a visit to The Ellen DeGeneres Show. In fact, the women on the team got so busy leading up to the Olympics, our interview with them was canceled (or at least postponed until after the games). But for now, here’s everything you want to know about the women on the team and their historic trip to Pyeongchang.
1. Meet the team
The Nigerian women’s bobsled team consists of driver Seun Adigun and break-people Ngozi Onwumere and Akuoma Omeoga. They each initially competed as top-flight sprinters in college before turning their attention to winter sports. But wait; there’s more! Simidele Adeagbo, Nigeria’s first female skeleton athlete, will also compete in this year’s Olympics.
2. All but one was born in the United States
While skeleton athlete Adeagbo was born in Ekiti State, Nigeria, each of the three members of the bobsled team was born and raised in America. However, they all have parents who were born in Nigeria and have dual Nigerian-American citizenship, and therefore are able to represent the country at the Olympic Games.
3. This is Adigun’s first season as a driver
While this is Adigun’s third season as a bobsled athlete, it’s her first year as a driver.
“Imagine taking a 16-year-old and just throwing them in [the] Daytona [500 NASCAR race],” she told DeGeneres during the team’s appearance on her show.
She may be new to the position, but she qualified for the Olympics, so she’s clearly a natural.
4. The bobsled team has the best T-shirts
One of the ways the team has raised funds for their training and trip to the Olympics has been through the sales of their T-shirts, which bear their slogan: “We sleigh!” This is perfect on so many levels, because not only are these women slaying on sleighs, but they each call Houston, Texas, home, which also happens to be the birthplace of Beyoncé herself, who sings a version of this slogan in her song “Formation.”
5. It started with a GoFundMe campaign
Back in 2016, Adigun created a GoFundMe page to help finance her Olympic dream, Time reported. Getting to the games is costly for anyone — let alone someone trying to start the first Olympic bobsled team from Africa.
6. There’s a touching story behind the team’s first sled
Adigun handcrafted the team’s first training bobsled out of wood and named it the Maeflower after her stepsister (nicknamed Mae Mae) who died in a car accident in 2009, Time also reported.
7. They’ve already racked up some major sponsorships
Typically, athletes have to wait until after they’ve achieved Olympic glory before picking up major, international sponsorships. Not so for these women, who have already partnered with Via and Under Armour and done a spot for Beats by Dr. Dre.
Regardless of what happens in Pyeongchang, these women have all proven that they’re world-class athletes and worthy of a spot at the Olympics — and we can’t wait to watch them “sleigh.”