To get through life, set goals Dr. Seun Adigun told students at Homewood-Flossmoor High School during a presentation on Feb. 20.
She’s proven it can work. Since her days at H-F, Adigun has twice been on Olympic teams representing Nigeria. She became world famous in 2018 as the face of the Nigerian women’s bobsled team.
Transferring to H-F as a second semester junior was difficult, but she recalled: “When I came here I was accepted into what became a new family, and it was great that I had an opportunity to do sports because that created a whole new opportunity.”
The 2005 graduate was a hurdler and runner for the H-F girls track team that took third place in IHSA state competition that year, coach Rob Assisse said.
“Realistically what I got (from H-F) was life-long friendships, commitment and tools I took to the rest of the world.
So not only was I about to athletically excel, a lot of what I got from this academia program right here in this building led me to get two bachelor’s, two master’s and a doctorate in chiropractic medicine,” she told students.
“You’ve got to have a plan. Whether its athletics or academics, whatever, it’s just about time management, but we get so caught up in where we’re trying to go that we miss the steps we need to get there,” Adigun said.
She said her goal at a University of Houston was to be the best at an NCAA Division 1 school. She was sidetracked by heart surgery.
“Emotionally and physically I was drained. I quit track twice, but something just kept pulling me back into it and after that second heart surgery I started breaking world records,” she said. Her coach believed she could make it to the Olympics. “Something regenerated in my soul, and I decided to stick with it.”
An American by birth, she has dual citizenship through her parents, Kola and Siki Adigun of Glenwood, who emigrated from Nigeria. She became a three-time Nigerian National champion, African champion and All-African Games champion. In 2012, she represented Nigeria in the Summer Olympic Games in London where she competed in the 100-meter hurdle rounds.
She remembers being in the best physical shape of her life, but after she qualified for the Olympics, she got a stress fracture in her leg. She rested for weeks and ran the race but didn’t win.
She set sports aside to continue her education, but in 2014 when she went to cheer on Olympians at the winter games, she was drawn to the bobsled team. She let the idea stew for about eight months before deciding she’d develop a women’s team.
After six weeks at the U.S. training facility, Adigun made the U.S. team, but used her contacts in Nigeria to get a team sanctioned. It required a minimum of $150,000, so Adigun started a GoFundMe account that went viral. She was amazed by the support.
Her team would be the first African team to compete in a winter games. That was her ultimate goal: to have the billion people on the continent of Africa represented at the winter games.
She was the driver of the bobsled that she describes as a 380-pound cylindrical tube traveling at speeds up to 100 miles per hour. Inside she was trying to maintain control as the forces pushed her against the narrow walls. Because of her slight physique, Adigun required extra padding and weights for acceleration at the 2018 games in South Korea.
Through the months of training, Adigun continued with her studies, using video conferencing program Skype to participate in classes from locations around the globe.
Today she is working with the 2022 Olympic bobsled team, is helping organize a chiropractic injury prevention and rehabilitation center in Houston and takes time out for public speaking. She is also an ambassador for Special Olympics.
Adigun had dozens of H-F students gather after her presentation to take selfies and for conversation.
Alice Abegune of Homewood, who also shares Nigerian heritage, said, “Seeing her, it gives me inspiration to be like her and to be great too.”
Chineelo Okolo of Olympia Fields, said, “I feel like what she did is really amazing. It makes me want to set higher goals and achievements step by step. I will get there eventually and I should keep on striving higher.”