Five fun questions to get to know the Nigeria women’s bobsled team
NBC caught up with Nigerian bobsled push athletes Akuoma Omeoga, who sprinted for the University of Minnesota, and Ngozi Onwumere, a former University of Houston sprinter, at a promotional event for Visa, the official payment technology partner of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
To learn more about the Nigerian women’s bobsled team:
What is the coldest temperature you have experienced in Nigeria?
Omeoga: “I’m thinking around 75 degrees. Everybody there would think that’s really cold, and I’m like, ‘It’s not that cold!’ But relative to the normal 95+ degrees, 75 can feel a little chilly.”
Onwumere: “Nonexistent! It’s never really cold in Nigeria…A lot of people wonder how we can do bobsled when we’re from Nigeria. The good thing is that a lot of bobsled is strength and conditioning, so you can do it anywhere and still be successful.”
What is your favorite Nigerian food?
Omeoga: “Ogbono soup.”
Onwumere: “I really enjoy all Nigerian food to be honest, from the soups to the jollof rice. There’s a big debate about jollof rice, because a lot of African countries do jollof rice, but I think Nigerian jollof rice is authentic and great. That’s my favorite.”
How would you describe your first run down the bobsled track?
Omeoga: “I would say it was a little bit painful. I didn’t really know how to latch into the sled at the time, so I was really using my arms to keep me in. I didn’t realize you need to use your legs to latch your butt into the back of the sled so you don’t move as much, and stay as relaxed as much as possible in your upper body. It was really intense.”
Onwumere: “You can only really describe it with facial expressions! The No. 1 thing I was really excited about was that it didn’t feel like a roller coaster, because that’s the scariest thing I was thinking about. Also, just knowing that I didn’t have to fear anything anymore, because now I know what to anticipate. Every run is different, but at least you know you have a general knowledge of what it’s going to be like. Prior to being on ice, we really didn’t know.”
What did “Cool Runnings” get right, and what did it get wrong?
Omeoga: “It definitely got the innovative part of the sport correct. With them practicing in a bathtub, they did everything in their power to try to prepare for a sport you really can’t prepare for. That was one of the things that was eye-opening for me when I started the sport…coming from Minnesota, I thought it was a given that you would have a sled if you want to do bobsled. Come to find out 20 years later that not everybody has a bobsled, so you have to do whatever works.”
Onwumere: “I’ve only watched it twice, and their questions about the sport were right, because we had a lot of the same questions. Also, the technical aspect of how the coach talked to them was right. So they got a lot of things right, and I don’t know what they necessarily got wrong, because everything they went through we also went through, for the most part.”
What is the funniest question you’ve been asked about bobsled?
Omeoga: “People ask me, ‘Were you nervous? Were you scared?’ But if you know me, I’m a daredevil, so I don’t know that whole idea about fear. I just assume I’m going to be safe. I didn’t realize how dangerous the sport can be!”
Onwumere: “Probably, ‘Why are you choosing to do it? What is it?’ People are really excited.”