How one woman went from an everyday exerciser to one race away from being Africa’s first female Olympic skeleton athlete in less than four months.
Source: Sleigh, Simidele Adeagbo, Sleigh
I have to be honest here… I don’t think this story will go viral or be shared multiple times. I also don’t think that a lot of people have as much interest in the Winter Olympics as they do the Summer Olympics. Winter Olympics is a niche sport. That doesn’t mean that the games are not as important. At any point when a country can rally behind its athletes it’s a boon for national spirit and pride.
The stories that arrive every time the Olympics begin can make us jump off the couch and pick up our running shoes. It can inspire us to go to the park to work out with our kids and family members. Sports are such an amazing driving force behind the moments in our lives that although the Winter Olympics is not a mainstream event, we do recognize certain names even after the events. When the story captures the heart like this post that Nike shared, it’s just a beautiful example of the power of sport.
Simidele Adeagbo is not a known name, but she should be especially if she accomplished her goal of becoming the first female “skeleton” athlete from Africa to compete in the Olympics. While that’s a lot to accomplish consider this. She’s 36 and until last year she had never tried the sport. She once pursued her dream of competing in the Olympics and fell short at the age of 26. That was in track and field. A year ago a video went viral of the women of the Nigerian bobsled team. The trio celebrated the accomplishment of being the first Olympic bobsled team from Africa.
Simidele saw the women and reached out. “There were only three women featured in the article — and, from what Adeagbo knew, bobsled is a four-person sport. “So, when I saw that, I was thinking, ‘Oh, maybe they need a fourth person and maybe that fourth person could be me because there’s a history of track and field athletes going into bobsled.’”
Women’s Bobsledding is a two woman sport so the team was already solid. This led Simidele on a journey that led to the sport of Skeleton. Once again she had never participated in the sport until last year and she had to meet several requirements to qualify for the Olympics. She has met all but one and that’s where the story gets interesting and becomes an example of why Nike remains the premier sportswear company in the world.
In Simidele’s story is the ability for Nike to both market and share the narrative of an incredible story. While there could be some element of exploitation here, in the introduction of this story there is also inspiration and to consider that a 36 year old could realize her dream of making it to the Olympics is definitely a tale worthy of telling even if it is in the form of marketing footwear and apparel… I don’t care. I will take this and enjoy the ride if Nike decides to push the story as “Breaking2” type delivery via social or via their own platform. They only have one day to do so since her last chance to accomplish her goal arrives tomorrow on January 11th.
Adeagbo is currently ranked 84th in the world. In order to qualify in skeleton for PyeongChang, an athlete has to be the top athlete in the sport from their country and to have competed in five races on three different tracks in the last two seasons. But because Adeagbo started the sport this year, that means that this requirement needs to be met this season. She completed her first-ever race on November 12, and so far, she’s checked all these boxes with the exception of the final race, which will happen on January 11, 2017, in Lake Placid, New York. Qualifiers will be announced from January 14 to 16. If she gets it, she’ll join the three Nigerian women bobsledders who recently became the first athletes from Africa to qualify for the Olympics in the sport, and Nigeria will have its biggest-ever Winter Olympics representation in PyeongChang.
Slay indeed Simidele, Slay.