Nigerian athletes were on a roll over the weekend at their various Conference Championships on the collegiate circuit, highlighted by two National Records – in the women’s Triple Jump and 200m, albeit an African Record in the sprint and qualification for the Olympics in three events.
Ruth Usoro was in a league of her own as she made a huge breakthrough in the women’s Long Jump at the Big 12 Indoor Championships in Lubbock, breaking sand at a Personal Best (PB) of 6.82m!
It was so good a jump that it passed as the 2nd best jump in the world, establishing her as the number one athlete in the NCAA this season, and further qualified her for the 2021 Olympic Games on Tokyo.
She wasn’t done with winning titles as she returned back to the field the following day, flying out to a third-round PB of 14.36m for a thorough win over the rest of the field, further strengthening her clutch on the NR she set in her season opener by 8 centimetres.
Her mark was not only a new NR, but also the 2nd best jump ever recorded in the NCAA and the fifth best all-time on the African all-time Indoor Toplist.
Usoro’s Triple Jump title ensured that she defended both of her titles from 2020 and made history by becoming the first Nigerian athlete ever to qualify for both the Long Jump and the Triple Jump at the Olympics Games.
She finished as the High point scorer of the Championships, just as in 2020.
Behind her, Grace Anigbata also leapt an indoor PB of 13.58m to finish 3rd, just edged out by her KSU teammate, Chantoba Bright who registered 13.60m.
Favour Ofili delivered her own dose of NR breaking performance in the women’s 200m at the South Eastern Conference (SEC) Indoor Championships in Fayetteville, Arkansas, where she motored to a huge total PB of 22.75s to win the first heat of the final races.
It was a groundbreaking race as Ofili not only became the fastest Nigerian, but also the fastest African woman to ever run the distance indoors, breaking the previous marker of 22.80s set by Murielle Ahoure in 2009.
She therefore, punched ber ticket to the Olympic Games as her time was 0.05s quicker than the qualification standard and became the 5th fastest U-20 athlete to run the distance.
Another Nigerian athlete who competed in the sprints was South Carolina’s Knowledge Omovoh who ran in the 5th heat of the women’s 400m, taking 3rd place in a PB of 53.17s and just missing out a spot in the final as that heat was won by Rosey Effiong in 52.59s, followed closely by Morgan Burks Magee in 52.69s. (SB).
In the throws, Isaac Odugbesan was inspired to a lifetime best of 20.50m to take the men’s Shot Put at the SEC Indoor Championships, bettering his previous PB by almost 70cm in total.
The Nigerian who in the 5th round was lying in 2nd on countback, having tied with Jordan West’s 19.98m lead from an earlier round, sent out his orb to that PB throw in the final round, breaking the School Record in the process.
Dotun Ogundeji also competed in and won the men’s Shot Put with a 19.81m heave ahead of Jonah Wilson who threw 19.34m and Sam Van Peursem with 18.40m at the Husky Classic in Seattle (WA).
African Youth Champion, Best Erhire at the UIndy Last Chance Meet dominated the men’s High Jump as he soared for the third time this year over a new PB of 2.18m, bettering his previous marker set a week ago at the C-USA Championships by 1cm.
He was 18cm clear of the rest of the field as Carson Newman athletes, Samuel Clerk and Shane Connelly both followed with 2.00m.
In the same manner, Joseph Edafiadhe won the men’s Long Jump with a best leap of 7.61m, well ahead of 2nd-placed Braden Walsh who jumped 7.13m and Theo Devillard with 6.82m.