Historic Nigerian Bobsled Team Has Chicago Ties

For the first time in history of the Olympic Winter Games, the country of Nigeria will be represented by a three-women bobsled team. 

In fact, it will be first time ever that the continent of Africa will be represented in the sport of bobsled. 

Behind the historic sled is driver Seun Adigun, a Nigerian American born on the North Side of Chicago. Seun has dual citizenship, according to her family.

"It's kind of still an out-of-body experience," said Seun. "It's kind of surreal." 

The 31-year-old was once a track standout at Homewood-Flossmoor High School. She also attended Evanston Township High School, before her parents and three brothers moved to south suburban Glenwood. 

"She's the only girl, but she's always been the strongest," said younger brother Femi Adigun, a student at DePaul University. 

Seun went on to run track at the University of Houston. There, her family said Seun, a three-time Nigerian National Champion and a two-time African Continental Champion, was recruited by scouts to represent Team Nigeria at the 2012 London Games. Seun competed in the 100m hurdles and the relay. 

Shortly after the Olympics, Seun decided to hang up her cleats -- little did she know she wasn't quite done with sports. 

"The call came one day where she said, 'Ma, I want to go for the combine in Dallas.’ I said, ‘what is combine?'" said Seun's mother Siki Adigun. "I didn’t know what bobsled was, I never even heard about it. I’ve maybe seen it before but it really didn’t register." 

Seun began training with Team USA as a rookie brakeman, when her family said she noticed something that disturbed her. 

"She said she noticed that there was no Africa representation," said Siki. "Seun loves the sport so much. She said, 'we need to get this to Africa.'" 

From there, an idea was born. Seun recruited two friends she met in Houston -- both former track and field athletes, both born to Nigerian parents -- and in 2014, inside a garage, the three women began building a makeshift wooden sled and an even bigger dream. 

"Seun plans everything," said her father Kolawole Adigun. "And when you worry, she says, 'don't worry. It's taken care of.'" 

With the backing of the Nigerian government, the team forged ahead. Seun, along with brakemen Ngozi Onwumere and Akuoma Omeoga, finished the five qualifying races necessary to earn a spot in the Olympic bobsled competition. 

"She started an entire federation. This is her brain child that she wrote on paper," said Femi. "I'm watching someone with the same blood as me create world history." 

Femi said her upbringing in the Chicago area made Seun tough as nails and driven to chase her dreams. 

"No matter what, she always makes a note tell people (about) Chicago," said Femi. "It's something about the culture here and the people here. You’re able to grow in a way that you wouldn’t be able to elsewhere in terms of mentality. You’re either going to make something happen or you’re going to make something happen." 

Seun graduated with a Doctorate of Chiropractic/Masters of Science dual degree in December 2017.

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