Adeagbo helps inspire reinvention

LOIS ELFMAN | 6/4/2020, midnight
History-making skeleton athlete Simidele Adeagbo is currently sheltering in place at her mother’s home in North Carolina.
Simidele Adeagbo

History-making skeleton athlete Simidele Adeagbo is currently sheltering in place at her mother’s home in North Carolina. After another successful skeleton season representing her homeland of Nigeria, Adeagbo was attending a training camp in Vancouver, Canada, when the world came to a stop due to COVID-19.

She had planned to return to Johannesburg, South Africa, her home base during her years as a marketing manager for Nike, but traveling there is impossible at this time. It was where Adeagbo lived when she was tapped with the unlikely opportunity of taking up the skeleton, a daring winter sport, and trying to qualify for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games.

Adeagbo has spoken about her incredible 100-day journey to becoming an Olympian and the first African woman and first Black woman to compete in Olympic skeleton. Now she is sharing her story, “The Art of Reinvention” (https://bit.ly/simiairbnbexperience), as part of Airbnb’s Experiences Hosted by Olympians in the virtual space.

“It’s been a great platform for people around the world to share their passions and their expertise with others,” said Adeagbo, who spent last fall as a World Fellow at Yale University. Airbnb is a worldwide Olympic partner and that is reflected in having Olympic athletes share their perspectives and life experiences.

“We have such a broad, diverse range of experiences that now we’re able through this platform to share with people who want to hear from us,” said Adeagbo. “I really thought hard about what I could offer that was authentic to me and my experience, but also unique and someone could take something away from.

“My story is really about reinvention,” she added. “When I think about what we’re all going through now, it’s a time where people are reflecting and also thinking ahead about the future and what that could look like. This creates space and time for all of us to open our minds to new possibilities.”

In hour-long live Zoom sessions, Adeagbo meets with groups of up to 10 and for private groups up to 30 people. It feels like building a community as people connect. So far, she’s had guests from 12 different countries.

“I try to do an ice-breaker that helps us get to know each other a little bit better and then we shift into talking about what the journey of reinvention looked like for me,” said Adeagbo. “I offer people what I consider to be my transformational blueprint.

“I share the pieces of the story that I think are going to best help people reimagine what they want their next 100 days to look like,” she added. “There’s time after my story for interaction—a Q&A and a group activity—getting people to write down on paper what they are aspiring to do and what actions they can take, so it becomes tangible.”