Simidele Adeagbo Competing On Nigeria's First-Ever Winter Olympic Team


We've seen how sprint speed can help in football, but Simidele Adeagbo, a 1999 graduate of Louisville Eastern High School in Kentucky, is showing that it can translate to much more.

This week in PyeongChang, South Korea, the former University of Kentucky track star and four-time All-American will become Africa's first-ever athlete to compete in the skeleton at the Winter Olympics.

Adeagbo, 36, was born in Canada but spent her adolescent years living in Nigeria until moving to America at the age of 6. She has dual citizenship as an American and Nigerian. In 2008, she attempted to qualify for Team USA's track and field team in the triple jump. She jumped 13.99 meters (45 feet 10.75 inches) in the prelims, but in the finals she came up just short, finishing seventh overall with an effort of 13.67m (44-10.25).

After that, she took a step back from her dream of making the Olympics -- that is, until last summer. That's when she heard of a push to put together Nigeria's first bobsled team. In August, she went to tryouts in Houston and earned a spot on the sledding sports team after testing well in the standing long jump and 45m sprint.

"You need to be strong, powerful, and fast," Adeagbo told CNN in a recent interview"I already had those tools from over 10 years of track and field background, and I was able to transfer those skills into a new sport, skeleton. 

"I think that's really fast-tracked my learning. Each day, I've committed myself to learning the sport, and here I am."

After making the team, Adeagbo first started training for the event in September, and in five months she had qualified for the Olympics.  According to qualifying standards, Adeagbo had to compete in a minimum of five qualification races on three different tracks and had to be ranked in the top 45 in the skeleton world rankings. She achieved those standards. 
 
Adeagbo is not the only track athlete on the Nigerian sledding team, either. Ngozi OnwumereMoriam-seun Adigun, and Akuoma Omeoga are all competing in the two-person bobsledding event for Nigeria. Onwumere and Adigun competed for the University of Houston, while Omeoga competed for the University of Minnesota. Adigun was a 2012 Olympian for Nigeria.

If any of these women medal this year, they would be the first team from Africa to podium in the Winter Olympics. Training heats for the skeleton have already started and qualifying heats begin on Friday and Saturday. Bobsledding training heats are set to start Saturday.

You can follow Adeagbo's journey on Twitter and Instagram and the entire Nigerian bobsled team on Instagram here.  





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