There was no stopping Nigeria’s Divine Oduduru from winning his first National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) title, as he held on tenanciously running from lane 8 to win the men’s 200m final with a time of 20.28s at Hayward Field, Eugene.
Oduduru has now joined the elite list of Nigerian athletes to win NCAA titles, with Oluwatobiloba Amusan being the most recent before him, having won the women’s 100m Hurdles in 2017.
Prior to the NCAA finals, Oduduru was a strong favourite to win the title having clocked a Personal Best (PB) of 20.13s last month in Waco. However in the heats to the final, he wasn’t showing that strong form to suggest he was a favourite or could even medal.
It’s noteworthy that Oduduru on Thursday, even qualified for the final as one of the two fastest losers, luckily progressing to the final having clocked 20.33s and finishing 3rd in heat 1.
On getting to the final, Oduduru made the best of the opportunity holding his nerves to secure the win for his school Texas Tech, winning by a one hundredth of a second. Florida State’s Andre Ewer was 2nd in 20.29s, while Kendal Williams finished 3rd in 20.32s
Having narrowly missed out on a place in the 100m final, Oduduru knew he had to deliver in the 200m which is his favourite, especially as he had shown tremendous promise this season.
Oduduru did admit he was lucky to make the final, however he was encouraged remembering the good memories of competing at the Eugene stadium in 2014, when he won Silver at the World Junior Championships.
“Today when I found out I was in lane 8, I was like I have to do something because 2014 I was here for the World Juniors and I ran from lane 8 also and I qualified. So I said okay, if I could do that at the World Juniors, I could do that here too,” Oduduru told reporters after winning the 200m NCAA title
“So that was part of my encouragement, and I encouraged myself, and I beat myself up and said okay it’s time to go. I just had to do what I have been doing at practice and I got the result,” Oduduru added.
How you dance when "You Never 'Experred' to win the 200m NCAA Title". All the way from Sapele, Nigeria and now winning a national title in USA! #ManLikeDivine #BeLikeDivine. GIF credit: @NCAATrackField pic.twitter.com/ebHS7SM0AK
— Making of Champions (@MakingOfChamps) June 9, 2018
On what inspired his special dance on realizing he had won the title he said: “I told God, ‘if you make me win this race, I’m going to dance a dance that shows that I’m grateful to you.”