• Sunday, April 21, 2024
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Nigerian Adeagbo becomes first African to compete in bobsleigh at IBSF World Championships

Simidele Aderagbo

Nigerian-born Simidele Adeagbo made history Saturday as the first African athlete to compete in bobsleigh at the IBSF World Championships since its establishment a century ago.

Adeagbo, who had been representing Nigeria since 2017, stepped up once again to fly the national colours in her world championships debut in Germany. The 42-year-old emerged among the top 20 in Women’s Monobob with an African record time of 59.52 seconds on the Winterberg track.

“I want to take a moment to celebrate this significant barrier that took a century to break. Too often our historic contributions are not recognized, undervalued and forgotten. So as we celebrate BHM, I’m honored to write another chapter in the new future of sport…I’m grateful for the opportunity to compete at the highest level & showcase the power of perseverance & determination,” Adeagbo said in a post on X celebrating the milestone.

The International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation (IBSF) World Championships hold a prominent position in the world of winter sports, converging athletes from various countries to compete in bobsleigh and skeleton. For someone like Adeagbo, a win in the championship is a forward step to another ticket at the Winter Olympics in July this year and another chance to clinch a medal following an appearance at the Winter Olympics in 2018.

Adeagbo who pivoted into sliding sports from a previous career in track and field to fill a gender gap and promote African representation, believes her achievement will lead to greater inclusivity for others like herself.

“This first will be forever recorded in history, paving the way for greater access and inclusion in the primarily Eurocentric, male dominated sport of bobsleigh. This historic moment is a testament to hard work and dreaming more than others think is practical,”she said.

“Given Africa’s underrepresentation at the Winter Olympics, I wanted to change the narrative and inspire the next generation to dream without limits,” Adeagbo had told IBSF.

According to her, her biggest goal is to win Africa’s first medal at the Winter Olympics.

Aderagbo draws inspiration from successful athletes and tennis world champions, Venus and Serena Williams, having acted as a body double for the latter. She says their determination regardless of their identity encourages her.

“They were blazing trails as young athletes in a sport where many people didn’t look like them. I pay homage to that legacy by wearing beads at the ends of my braids when I compete,” Aderagbo had said.

This is not Adeagbo first time setting African records on ice. Asides being the first African and Black woman to compete in the sport of skeleton at the Olympics, in 2022, she made first place at the Women’s Monobob World Series with a time of 1:49mins on the first run and 1:51mins on run two, to give her victory in 2:01.00.

It was in the same year that she was awarded an Olympian for Life for her contributions to winter sport and the promotion of the Olympic Values during her competitive career, following her establishment of SimiSleighs Foundation, a not-for-profit advocacy group for women and girls in sport.

The Nigerian history maker alluded to her foundation during her celebratory post. She said “As I break this barrier on the ice, through the work of the simisleighs foundation, I continue to break the barriers that limit women and girls’ opportunities to reach their full potential.”

The world championships debut would see other Nigerians in bobsleigh including Nafeesat Aliu, Sekinat Alawode, Mujeeb Adewuyi, and Abdulquddus Aliu, among others, set their gaze on the winter olympics world medal in coming years