The Nigerian bobsled team is a longshot for a medal at the Olympics, but their Cinderella story has turned them into stars on two continents.
Seun Adigun, Ngozi Onwumere and Akuoma Omeoga are Americans who live and train in Houston. But they are competing for their parents’ native homeland of Nigeria.
They’ve already made history as the first bobsled team from Africa ever to qualify for the Winter Olympics.
Adigun, the driving force behind the team, was a track star for the UH Cougars and competed in track for Nigeria in the 2012 Summer Olympics.
She admits she didn’t know much about bobsled when she decided to give it a whirl after cheering on friends.
“I thought, hmm, I’m getting a little bit of this Olympic fever again,” Adigun told the New York Times.
A few months later, she went to Dallas to try out for the U.S. team and made it.
Adigun built a sled from wood to practice on the University of Houston campus.
“I just went for like two or three days straight, just hammering and drilling and sawing this wooden sled together,” Adigun told CBS News.
She named the sled the Maeflower after her late sister.
After competing for the U.S. team for a year, Adigun recruited Onwumere and Omeoga – also former track stars -- to form a team for Nigeria.
Before long, they were hooked too. But the 85 mph speeds can be terrifying.
“Every time we cross the finish line, I’m screaming, ‘Thank God we survived!’” Adigun said.
The women went to Nigeria last spring to promote the sport. They were greeted by enthusiastic crowds everywhere they went.
“To bring us in with such open arms and accept what we’re doing as almost heroic,” Adigun told Time. “It was just beautiful to get that vibe.”
Most people in Nigeria had never heard of bobsled before, but the team knows they’ll be cheering them on when they speed around the track at PyeongChang. And on the other side of the world in Houston, we'll be cheering for them too.