The Nigeria Men's Bobsled Team Is the First from Africa Set To Compete in the Winter Games So Far
The Bobsled and Skeleton Federation of Nigeria also announced the new roster for the history-making Women's Bobsled Team.
The 2018 Winter Olympics set a precedent for African athletes seeking to make their mark in the Games.
Team Nigeria led the way, with the Women's Bobsled Team breaking barriers becoming the first African athletes to compete in the bobsled competition at the Games. Simi Adeagbo soon joined the Bobsled and Skeleton Federation (BSFN) as Nigeria's first skeleton athlete, finishing in 20th place in Pyongchang.
On Nigeria's Independence Day, the Federation returns with more history-making news, adding a roster of athletes to the country's (and so far Africa's) first Men's Bobsled Team.
"We give all the glory to God for helping us put together a men's team for bobsled," Chief Solomon Ogba, BSFN president, says in a press release. "We hope to move the sports further and we encourage more Nigerians to get involved in the sports of bobsled and skeleton."
Bobsled driver Osazee Ulamen tapped the Federation to inquire about building a men's bobsled team last season.
"I am the happiest man on earth that it has come to Africa and it has come to Nigeria—and Nigerians are making history," Ulamen says.
He recruited brothers Aaron Schernig (driver and brakeman) and Elias Schernig (brakeman) to round out the 2018-2019 team. All three athletes are based in Innsbruck, Austria.
"I'm really, really excited about being a part of the bobsled team," Aaron says. "And I'm so proud to represent my dad's motherland and nation of Nigeria; and to be a part of something big—bigger than sports."
The 2018-2019 women's team will be led by returning Olympian Adeagbo, who will continue to compete in skeleton. She will be joined by Denver-based skeleton April Obiageli Young. This is Young's fourth season in the sport and first season competing for Nigeria.
Houston-based Linda Okoro will be the women's bobsled team's driver. Her brakewoman will be named later this season.
BSFN hosted a one-week camp in Calgary, Alberta, Canada in the beginning of September where the newest members came to test and began their training. Adeagbo was granted a "bye" for the training week to secure her spot on the nation team for the 2018-2019 season, per federation exemptions. Official season training and competitions are set to begin from the end of October.
UPDATE 10/03/2018: The headline has been edited to reflect the possibility of another African country joining the Winter Games in the sport of bobsled, as the next Olympics is in 4 years.