Ruth Usoro was in the form of her life at the just concluded Big 12 Indoor Championships in Lubbock where she competed in the women’s Long Jump and Triple Jump events and made history, doing so.
Having won both titles in 2020 before the Track season was cut short, the Nigerian athlete on Friday 26th, laced up her spikes to compete in the Long Jump and with an early lead and total Personal Best (PB) of 6.63m, looked good for the win, even despite the presence of her teammate Monae’ Nichols who arrived as the NCAA Leader with 6.75m at the Championships.
In the 4th round, it wasn’t even Nichols who staged a challenge for the title, but former World Junior Record holder in the 60m Hurdles, Tara Davis who swept to an equal PB of 6.68m to take the lead.
Subsequently, Davis passed her 5th attempt and remained in the lead as Usoro reached 6.52m.
Keeping her composure and cheered on by her school, Texas Tech’s jump team, she took to the runway again for the last and final attempt of the night, flying out to a record-breaking 6.82m!
It was all a bag of emotions and drama for Usoro, while her teammates erupted with joy. She had successfully defended her Long Jump Big 12 title, with a Meet Record (MR), School Record (SR), NCAA Lead, the 2nd best jump in the world for the season and the 3rd best on the Nigerian all-time list alongside Ese Brume.
To top it off, it was an Olympic qualifier, hitting the exact mark of 6.82m required to qualify for the event to take place in Tokyo later this year.
Again showing resilience, Usoro wasn’t done as she returned back the next day to compete in the women’s Triple Jump where she was ranked number 1 in the NCAA, having reached a National Record (NR) of 14.28m in her season opener in January.
As the favourite for that title, she bounded out to a huge PB of 14.36m in the 3rd round to nail the win, a new NR and the 2nd best jump ever recorded in the NCAA.
It was also a Collegiate Lead and School Record, but not only that, it secured her a second qualification to compete at the Tokyo 2021 Olympics in the event!
Her performances were indeed landmarks in Nigerian athletics history as no athlete has ever qualified for the Olympic Games, both in the Long Jump and the Triple Jump.
One Nigerian athlete that may have achieved this laudable feat is Charlton Ehizuelen who as one of the best jumpers in the world, was set for glory at the 1976 Olympics, until it was boycotted by the nation and many others with links to the apartheid South Africa.
Her next stop will be at the 2021 NCAA Indoor Championships, holding between March 14th to 15th.