Nigeria’s Simidele Adeagbo has broken a significant barrier in sports, officially qualifying for the 2018 Winter Olympics in the Women’s Skeleton. Adeagbo will be the first Nigerian and African female athlete to compete in the Olympics in the sport. She’ll also be the first Black female athlete to compete in the Skeleton in the Winter Olympics. The International Bobsled and Skeleton Federation (IBSF) officially announced Olympic qualifiers on their website January 15th, 2018.
Adeagbo is on her way to South Korea in February after completing 5 required qualifying races this season in Calgary, Alberta (Canada), Park City, Utah (U.S.A.) and Lake Placid, New York (U.S.A.). Her journey to Pyeongchang began in August 2017 after coming out of a 9-year retirement from track and field to participate in the Nigerian Bobsled and Skeleton tryouts. Adeagbo was then invited to team camp and touched a Skeleton sled for the first time on September 12th, 2017. She completed her fifth qualifying race on January 11th, 2018 in Lake Placid with a strong podium finish, placing 3rd in the North American Cup (NAC) race. Adeagbo dominated the field, throwing down the fastest push start time (5.29 seconds) and the second fastest downtime of the day (58.11 seconds). Adeagbo earned a second consecutive 3rd place finish and bronze medal on January 12th, 2018 in Lake Placid in her 6th NAC race of the season. Adeagbo made history in her 5th and 6th races, becoming the first ever African Skeleton athlete to place in the top 3 and be represented on the podium in international competition.
Adeagbo, a four-time NCAA All-American and triple jump school record holder at the University of Kentucky hopes that her accomplishments go beyond herself and her new sport. “Ultimately, for me, this is about breaking barriers in sports. It’s about making history. And leaving a legacy. It’s about moving sport forward,” she says. “That’s so much bigger than just me being an Olympian. This will open doors and unlock the potential of future generations of athletes.”
Nigeria will have its biggest-ever Winter Olympics representation as Adeagbo joins three Nigerian women bobsledders who recently became the first athletes from Africa to qualify for the Olympics in the sport. Adeagbo will be the first Nigerian athlete to compete in the Olympic Games with the Women’s Skeleton competition kicking off on February 16th, 2018.
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