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Nigeria's Simi Adeagbo sets her sights on Beijing 2022

Simidele Adeagbo, Africa's female Skeleton athlete at a Winter Olympics, starts her season this weekend, with the aim of reaching the Beijing Olympics in 2022. Antonia Steyn

Simidele Adeagbo, who made Nigeria's Winter Olympic debut this year in PyeongChang, is back on the ice for a new Skeleton season, with an eye to the 2022 edition in Beijing.

As the first Nigerian to compete in the Winter Olympics, being the one to forge a new path is significant. It has the power to inspire others, change conversations, and craft new narratives.

As the first African woman to compete in Olympic Skeleton, a daring sport in which athletes hurl themselves on a sled, head first, down a frozen ice track at 80 miles per hour, I had the privilege of changing the course of Olympic history.

Breaking this barrier was a great first step, but what does it really take to create lasting impact and continue to move the world of sport forward?

The continent of Africa is severely underrepresented at the Winter Olympics, the world's pinnacle sporting event, for various reasons. The spirit of the Olympics is the ultimate expression of democracy in sport, yet, only 7 percent of the countries at the PyeongChang Games came from Africa, with no African athlete reaching a podium finish.

In contrast, 52% of the countries that competed in PyeongChang came from Europe, making up more than half of the total number of nations at the Games. Norway topped the final medal count, with a total of 39 medals, while athletes from 21 other European countries made it onto the record table with at least one gold, silver, or bronze.

Moving beyond flashy headlines about African nations making debuts at a single Winter Olympics will require long term, sustainable commitment to build a lasting legacy. That is why I'm embarking on the road to the Beijing, instead of being 'one and done'.

My journey to becoming a Winter Olympian began with a desire to change the narrative around Africa. Despite the obvious practical limitations (coming from Nigeria, a place with no snow or ice) and financial barriers, and only discovering the sport about 100 days before the Olympics, I wanted to show people that anything is possible.

As I look ahead to Beijing, I'm driven by the possibility of further reshaping what people expect from the continent by seeking to become the first African to win a medal at the Winter games.

Breaking through to a podium finish is not just about participation. It's about cementing a legacy rooted in performance at the highest level and ultimately inspiring the next generation to dream without limits. This purposeful mission is what will keep me going on the long road to Beijing.

The odds of any athlete winning an Olympic medal are similar to the odds of winning the lottery. And arguably, with the lack of awareness of the winter sporting world, virtually no training facilities for winter sports, and limited support from the private and public sectors, the odds are even more stacked against African athletes.

But with just over one billion inhabitants on the continent of Africa (16% of the world's human population) and the world's youngest population (median age of 19.4 years and 60% of the its population under 25), the potential payoff of an African athlete winning a medal at the Winter Olympics is immeasurable.

The magnitude of reaching the podium, and serving as a point of inspiration for more than a billion people on the continent, far outweighs the odds that are stacked against me.

Making history in PyeongChang was just the first step. Being first can be forgettable. It's now about imaging new possibilities, driving concrete impact, and leaving a lasting legacy through the power of sport.