Meet Simidele Adeagbo, Nigeria’s first skeleton athlete

Simidele Adeagbo will become the first Nigerian and African woman to participate in the game of skeleton at the Winter Olympics.

Adeagbo, 36, achieved this milestone after successfully overcoming five qualifiers for the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea.

The most recent was last week in Lake Placid, New York, where she achieved a personal best and had the fastest push start of the day – finishing the race in third place

Skeleton is a single rider sport, where an athlete rides a skeleton sledge down a frozen track at high speeds while lying face down.

Just like Nigeria’s bobsled team, this is the 36-year-old’s first go at the sport, but she’s determined to use this experience to inspire young Africans to excel at whatever they do.

Adeagbo’s prowess means the west African nation will be represented in two events in South Korea, joining the bobsled team.

Born in Nigeria, Adeagbo moved to the United States aged six and hasn’t returned afterwards.

Instead, she has found refuge in South Africa where she has lived for the past 12 years.

A sports lover from a tender age, Adeagbo found special interest in track and field and almost represented the U.S. in the event of triple jump back at Beijing Olympics.

Just two years ago, she had no clue about skeleton.

“I thought what the ladies were doing was a really awesome thing—in terms of being the ones to blaze this trail in a winter sport that has never been done before for Nigeria and also for the continent,” she told OkayAfrica.

“I immediately wanted to be a part of it, so I reached out and kept in touch with them.”