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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

Nigeria’s Adeagbo makes Olympic debut
four months after first skeleton ride

PYEONGCHANG (Xinhua) -- Africa’s first female skeleton racer, Simidele Adeagbo, made her Olympic Winter Games debut on Friday, four months after trying the sport for the first time.

“The journey has been fast-tracked,” the 36-year-old said.

“I don’t think that a lot of people have qualified for the Olympics in four months, trying to learn a sport that it really takes years and years to learn. So my learning has been on a public platform, trying to do it in front of media, my peers, everyone.

“But if I can go down an iced track at 80 miles per hour (128 km/h) there is nothing in this world that I can’t do.”

The South Africa-based marketing manager had read about the Nigeria bobsleigh team and had been invited for a training camp in September last year. There she discovered skeleton and decided to try to make the team for Nigeria’s first participation in an Olympic Winter Games.

“This was an opportunity to make history for my country. The fact that no woman from Africa had been to the Olympic Games in the sport of skeleton, to me it was a barrier that needed to be broken and I felt that I was the person that can do it.

“I’m hoping to inspire future generations of people to do the unexpected.”

Nine years after quitting athletics, Adeagbo started with skeleton in October and qualified for the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games with a third place in the North American Cup at Lake Placid near New York on 11 January.

“The first time was scary. I describe it as violent and turbulent. But as I’ve got better it’s more and more fun. I’m enjoying the sport now and I’m learning to control the sled a lot better than that first day some months ago.

“I feel that I can apply a lot of my skills, speed, power and explosiveness that I have from being a track and field athlete.”

Adeagbo finished 20th and last after the first two heats, happy about her push starts but still seeing lots of room for improvements in Saturday night’s runs.

“The most important thing is how I’m navigating down the track. I missed some of the timings of my steers, which made me lose some time and hit some walls, but for me, I’m still learning the sport and it’s all part of the process.

“I did have a personal best and I’m happy with that.”

           

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