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When talent, innovation and beauty align we had to take the opportunity in 2017 to catch up with Seun Adigun of the Nigerian bobsled team (team members are Ngozi Onwumere and Akuoma Omeoga) when they were preparing for upcoming qualification trials for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeonchang. Read more to learn how they got started in the sport, the impact they intend to make and thoughts on natural hair as an athlete.
What got you interested in bobsledding? How long have you been in the sport?
My first season in the sport of bobsled was 2015-2016 season- this is officially my second season in the sport. Initially the reason I entered the sport of bobsled was to attempt to qualify for another Olympic games in a different sport. Then eventually my participation grew to be much larger than me and I realized I had the ability to positively influence and empower millions of people by creating the first African bobsled team for Nigeria.
How did your team come to be?
Once I got over my apprehensions of pioneering a new team, I decided to reach out to two amazing women that I knew possessed the characteristics of someone who could accept and complete this journey. Ngozi was a former athlete of mine when I coached track & field at University of Houston, so I knew her capabilities were perfect for the task. I met Akuoma in the summer of 2016 and immediately clicked with her as if I had known her forever. Her past athletic experience matched with her fearless personality told me that she would additionally be perfect for this mission to make history.
Where do you train?
We train in Texas as a team, however, as the driver I additionally train on the various bobsled courses during bobsled driving school.
As a woman of color, what are some of the unique opportunities you see for yourself and team in the sport?
One thing in particular is the potential to encourage and additionally empower other women of color to take leaps of faith and overcome fears. Breaking barriers brings awareness to women of color and creates opportunities for increased demand. This can additionally increase the presence of more women of color on this platform and in this sport.
What are some of the challenges you face?
When pioneering an idea an being an innovator, the largest challenge resides in the lack of prior experience. There is no “blueprint” to use as a guide that directly mimics your experiences so detailed planning and proper execution are key to setting the foundation of the future.
Other than winning what is your greatest ambition for the team, your culture?
The greatest ambition is to promote a positive image of empowerment, respect, honor, and fearlessness. We hope to encourage people to take chances when opportunities present themselves and never hide behind the fear of the unknown. We also hope to bring positivity and awareness to the country of Nigeria, the continent of Africa, and the sport of bobsled.
Your mostly covered up with a full body suit and helmet, but in the 2017 online Global News article you are all proudly rocking beautiful natural hair. What affect do you think being natural has on the way you are perceived as a team?
Being natural paints a positive picture and can be perceived as raw, pure, and authentic. These are characteristics that we proudly represent in our personal existence. We are not afraid to be transparent because we are genuine and proud of all that we represent.
What message do you want to send to the world, in particular young women of color?
The fear of the unknown resides in all of us, but it should never limit your from taking chances and breaking barriers. There is nothing wrong with challenging that which you do not understand. When you ride on faith and do things with the best of intentions even a perceive “failure” is an achievement from a different perspective. Be a tool on this earth that utilizes selfless acts to enable people and things that are much larger than you.
How do you care for your hair to ensure it’s healthy and looks great under the helmet?
Many times I will do protective styles life braids or twist outs to ensure the health of my ends. I additionally will moisturize my hair nightly with leaving conditioners to keep my hair soft and Shea butter with coconut and olive oil to lock in the moisture.
We thank Seun Adigun and her team for representing women of color, knowing no limitations showcasing their talent to the watching world.