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Simidele Adeagbo: First-Ever African Athlete at the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation World Championship

Simidele Adeagbo: First-Ever African Athlete at the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation World Championship

Simidele on the track scaled e1709748176523

Simidele Adeagbo considers it a privilege and a huge responsibility to be the first African to participate in the IBSF World Championship.

By Tuka Letura 

On the 24th of February 2024, Simidele Adeagbo, representing Nigeria, pushed her sled down the Veltins Eisarena track in Winterberg, Germany, where she became the first-ever slider from Africa in a world championship event – the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton World Championship (IBSF). She finished 20th with a total run time of 3:58.81 seconds, her personal best. 

In bobsleigh, the athlete sits upright in a bigger sledge, called a bobsleigh, and races down the track feet first. They use hand-held ropes attached to the sledge to steer when in it.

Born in Canada, she was actively into track events, participating in sprints, the long jump and the high jump. She began actively representing Nigeria in 2017 and in 2018, Adeagbo represented the country at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics in South Korea in bobsleigh. This was Nigeria’s first-ever appearance at the Winter Olympics and Adeagbo was part of the first African team in bobsleigh. She became the first female athlete from an African country to compete in skeleton at the Olympics. In Skeleton, the athlete lies face down on a small sledge, known as a skeleton sledge, and races down the track headfirst. They steer by shifting their body weight and using their shoulders and knees to navigate the curves.

Simi Adeagbo at 2018 Olympics
Simidele Adeagbo at 2018 Olympics

Adeagbo considers it a privilege and a huge responsibility to be the first African to participate in the IBSF World Championship. Speaking with Afrocritik,  she says  “For me, it’s a privilege to be able to represent, being the one who breaks barriers.” The doors to compete in winter sliding sports for more African athletes and Adeagbo’s appearance is proof that Africans can compete in the sport, despite the weather conditions being very different to that in Africa in general, especially Sub-Saharan Africa.

Simidele on the track scaled
Simidele Adeagbo | Malte Babion

Much like in 2018, Adeagbo’s appearance at the IBSF World Championship in 2024 is self-funded. Sledges for competing go from $6,000 to well over $20,000, depending on the specifics of design and material used. The overall participation in the games is also expensive, as travel costs, kits, and other necessities also have to be considered. Whilst support has somewhat come from the Bobsled and Skeleton Federation of Nigeria, she is yet to receive any from Nigeria’s Sports Ministry but also admits she is available for partnership and sponsorship from brands and corporate bodies. “I self-fund my participation in these competitions, so I’m open to partnerships with corporate brands. Participating in ice sports is expensive, everything costs lots of money”, she shared. 

At an individual level, she has however received a lot of praise. Africans, especially Nigerians, have trooped out in numbers to support the athlete, especially on social media. On X, post interactions and followers have also increased. “It’s great to see all the support on social media. It also means a lot to me that people watched live as well. Keep the support coming”, she added.

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She is also as passionate about representing Africa and her country, as Nigerians are about her, proudly showcasing the country’s colours on her kit. On the insides of the heel of her spikes, the silhouette of Africa merged with the image of a woman sporting a full afro, emerges boldly in black, while on the outside, the iconic design of Nigeria’s men’s football team jersey, crafted by Nike in 2020, seamlessly integrates within the swoosh of the Nike Logo. 

Simidele Adeagbo’s Spikes
Simidele’s Spikes | Malte Babion

 Adeagbo is also the founder and a board member of the Simi Sleighs Foundation, founded in 2018. The foundation is aimed at creating a world where every girl and woman can benefit from the power of sport. It achieves this by developing a curriculum rooted in sports principles to cultivate leadership skills among girls. The foundation has rolled out programmes to over 500 girls across Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, Morocco, and the US through partnerships with YEDI (Youth Empowerment Development Initiative), Nike Made to Play, Grassroot Soccer, INSAF (Morocco’s National Institute of Solidarity for Girls and Women in Distress), and Girl Pride Circle.

To support the Simi Sleighs Foundation, donations can be made here.

Tuka Letura is an experienced sports writer with over five years of experience in the craft. He uses data and statistics to provide analysis and commentary. From regional to worldwide competitions, he has covered a wide range of sports-related events and topics.

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