With only twenty African-Americans competing in the last winter Olympics in Vancouver, there are a number of old and new competing faces coming in the 2018 winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Starting off in Houston with only a wooden sleigh, “The Maeflower”, to practice with, Seun Adigun, Ngozi Onwumere, and Akuoma Omeoga have now qualified for the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea. These three women are the first African-American team, in history, to go to the Winter Olympics.
“This is beyond a dream come true.” Adigun tells a CNN Sports reporter.
Adigun and Onwumere were both track and field athletes before they decided to try bobsledding. Adigun competed in the 2012 London games as a hurdler, while Onwumere was a sprinter at the 2015 African games. Because this is the first team for Africa, budgeting and funding were difficult to acquire. The team decided to start a GoFund Me and raise 75,000 dollars and soon signed a sponsorship deal with Visa.
These three women will be making history much like the men’s Jamaican bobsled team, “The Cool Running”, did 30 years ago in Calgary.
“To be compared to a group of people who 30 years later are still being celebrated for something legendary is amazing. If we can leave that type of legacy or have that type of impression on others, then we’ve really done something special and well.” Adigun tells the reporter.
The women’s heat will start on February 20th and the team has a lot of work to do if they want to bring home a medal.
“Being in an uncomfortable place isn’t bad [and] it isn’t wrong; it’s just different. Sometimes you need to be able to take that chance.”
Making Hockey History
In addition to the Nigeria women’s team, another participant will be making history. With more than 1,000 Division I hockey players, only thirteen players represent themselves as African-American and Jordan Greenway is one of them. The Boston University hockey forward will be the first African-American to play for the USA Hockey team in the 2018 Olympic Games. Greenway will be one of four college players to play for the USA team.
“I’ve been able to accomplish a lot of good things and just allowing a lot of African-American kids who are younger than me who see kind of what I’m doing, I hope that can be an inspiration for them,” Jordan said to the Sporting News reporter.
Jordan first started his hockey career at the age of 12, when he convinced his mom to allow him to go to a hockey prep school. Since then, Greenway had a groundbreaking performance at the 2017 International Ice Hockey World Championship. He contributed three goals and five assists for the team that won a gold medal. For Boston, Greenway has contributed seven goals and 10 assists this season.
“Just being able to build on that legacy is an unbelievable feeling for me, and I’m happy I’m able to get this opportunity now,” Greenway tells Sporting News.
Greenway will debut his talents on the ice in February.
Greenway isn’t the only young athlete revealing their talents at the Olympics. After stepping onto the ice four months ago, Erin Jackson will be the third African-American to make the US Olympic speed skating team joining Shani Davis. Being the first African-American athlete to qualify in the US Olympics in speed skating team in 2002. There was also Maame Biney, who was announced as the first African-American woman to qualify for the speed skating team in Utah.
The 25-year-old will also be the first black women to qualify for a long track competition. Jackson came in third place in the 500-meter race trials finishing 39.22 for her first run and 39.04 for her second.
“I really wasn’t expecting any of this, just coming in as a newbie, just trying to do the best I can,” Jackson tells NBC Sports
Jackson was a former inline skater and roller derby participant for the Ocala Cannibals and for the Jacksonville Rollergirls.
“I’ll do my best to make you proud this February.”
The XXIII Olympic Winter Games will be held from February 5th to February 25th.