Nigerian athletes have always been formidable in the NCAA, from greats like Mary Onyali who won the NCAA 200m title in 1988, and the Ezinwa twins (Osmond and Davidson) whose records remain unbroken at Azusa Pacific University, to the more recent force of Favour Ofili and Udodi Onwuzurike.

With a new wave of Nigerians transitioning to the US Collegiate system for the 2024 season, we put the spotlight on some of them and got them reflecting on the 2023 season, as well as their goals for the new season and the scholarship offers they received.

FAITH OKWOSE (Alabama) – 100m, 200m

Phenomenal is one way to describe the kind of season that Faith Okwose had in 2023 and as she put it, it was one that was in the books already before it happened, based on the amount of devotion she poured into preparation. In her exact words, ” I started sport with nothing, so I can’t leave with nothing.”

A native of Delta State, she had a mini breakthrough at the 2022 National Sports Festival (NSF), one where she almost outclassed experienced 100m and 200m fields, copping Silver medals on both occasions. After such a great outing, one would have thought it was time for her to rest and regroup for the new season, but she didn’t let up. Okwose didn’t want to lose form and with the NSF happening so late in the year, she just continued with training.

However, the stakes were now higher. She was no longer the athlete who struggled to break 12 seconds over 100m at the start of the season. She was now arguably one of the fastest women based in Nigeria and in response to this newfound status, she started training twice a day!

Her unwavering dedication paid off as she raked in several medals in the course of the 2024 season. She surprised herself by becoming the National 200m Champion, and then the African U-18 Champion in the 100m and 200m, setting Championship Records in both events. This achievement remarkable as it was, was mirrored at the Commonwealth Youth Games, sprinting to a big 100m Personal Best (PB) of 11.26s that doubled as a National U-18 Record.

These brilliant performances piqued the interest of the best US Colleges, getting scholarship offers from LSU, USC, USF, Alabama, Southern Mississippi, Tulane University and lots more. On why she chose Alabama from the sea of offers, she had this to say: “I chose Alabama because they have a good facility and a school sprinting coach that understands me well. I believe attending the University of Alabama will significantly contribute to the improvement of my sports career.”

In a manner reminiscent of successful professional athletes, Okwose spoke with great enthusiasm about her dreams. She exuded confidence in her ability to qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games and when asked about her additional goals for the season, she expressed her ambition to compete in the Lima World U-20 Championships as well.


There are a few things Justina Eyakpobeyan is known for, including her distinctive style and fashion sense, a substantial presence on social media, and above all, her explosive start off the blocks. This remarkable speed has even led to comparisons with the all-time great, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce.

She announced herself as one to watch out for when at the start of the 2023 season, she stormed to a PB of 11.35s to emerge the Nigerian U-18 100m Champion. Her subsequent performance at the African U-18 Championships in Ndola, Zambia, earned her two medals – a Silver in the 100m and a Bronze in the 200m. Additionally, she clinched a Silver medal at the National Championships, further solidifying her promising presence in the .

The Commonwealth Youth Games up was next and while racing in her 100m semifinal heat, she powered to an equal PB of 11.35s, breaking the Championship Record and then went one better in the final, running 11.29s to win a Silver medal.

Beautiful as the year may have been, it wasn’t all smooth as she had some ankle niggle mid-season and is currently dealing with the loss of her father. Speaking on how her season went, she said “Last season was absolutely incredible. I feel so grateful, honoured and blessed by all the accomplishments. I was able to accomplish all that I did with a lot of dedication, hard work, patience and support from my amazing coach and teammates.”

After such a great season, she of course got offers from the crème de la crème of the NCAA and announced her top offers to be from LSU, Texas, USC and FSU, while she shelved off teeming offers from other schools such as Alabama, Texas Tech, Auburn and Texas A&M.

With the commencement of the new season and an announcement just around the corner, Eyakpobeyan is grateful for the exposure she gained in 2023 and is using that as motivation to push herself to new heights. She hopes to be on the Paris 2024 Nigerian Olympic team!

TIMA GODBLESS (LSU) – 100m, 200m

Tima Godbless has had her highs and lows since she first emerged at the 2019 National Youth Games, but there is no denying the wealth of talent she has, one that we saw carry her to a new Nigerian U-20 100m Record of 11.09s at the 2022 World Junior Championships in Cali.

Poised for greatness, she participated, albeit twice, in 2023. Her first appearance was at the African U-20 Championships in Zambia, where she emerged as the standout performer by securing Gold in both the women’s 100m and 200m events. Notably, she clocked impressive times of 11.43s and 23.28s, marking an exceptional start to her season. The sole other instance she graced the track was at the National Championships in Benin, adorned in a complete LSU kit. Unfortunately, her season took an unexpected turn as she suffered an injury, compelling her to be stretchered off the track.

Prior to this, Godbless had earned a scholarship to advance her career at LSU, having received offers from prominent institutions such as Tennessee, Texas Tech, Baylor, MTSU, and Mississippi State. However, her arrival in the U.S. was delayed until late in the season.

In well-spoken manner, she spoke of her decision, saying “LSU Athletics produces outstanding performers on the playing field, in the classroom and in life. They consistently win and go on to achieve great things both in and out of athletics. That’s mostly the reason why I chose LSU.”

On the challenges she encountered over the past year, particularly grappling with injuries, she expressed, “It’s a challenging and personal journey, demanding a blend of physical and mental resilience. Each individual’s experience is distinct.” Godbless acknowledged that it proved demanding at times, necessitating a positive mindset, the backing of friends and family, and even seeking professional counseling.

Overall, she is grateful for the experience, how well she has adapted to staying in the US, with the cultural differences, different weather and even new foods.

“I frequently prepare Nigerian dishes, including jollof rice, banga soup, pepper soup, and okra soup,” she shared. “It helps me feel connected to home, though I do miss my family, especially since this marks my first extended period away from them.”


Victory Godah by all standards was having a quiet season in 2023 until she appeared at the National Championships in Benin, roaring to life in her 100m semifinal with a then-PB of 11.47s. It was enough to turn heads in her direction, but not as much as would happen a week after at the Lagos Athletics Series League Finals when she defeated Blessing Ogundiran who had been crowned National Champion, storming to a new PB of 11.28s!

Her performance caught the eye, not only of Nigerian athletics fans, but also of top US school, University of Minnesota where she is now headed to further her career. Speaking with her, she said “I’m hyped to start another level of my career and I’m believing with God, it is going to be a great season.”

She is grateful to scholarbook for helping navigate the intricacies of her scholarship and she hopes to make it big, both indoors and outdoors. Her target this year is to improve her PB and be a contender for a spot on Team Nigeria in the flats to the Paris Olympic Games.

QUEEN USUNOBUN (Cincinnati) – 400m

One could feel the excitement bouncing off  Queen Usunobun as she spoke of her transition to the NCAA and although she raced sparingly in 2023, she broke 53 seconds for the first time and recorded three PBs, closing the season with a 52.40s and a 3rd-place finish at the National Championships.

These performances brought her scholarship offers from Alabama, Auburn, Cincinnati, Texas State University and some other schools, but she decided to settle for Cincinnati based on how well she related with the school coach and after being shown the school environment. “The team showed me love and the coach has a great record. She is a three-time Olympian and has coached a lot of good 400m runners in her coaching career,” she added.

She travelled to the US on January 1st and she already has lofty dreams ahead of her, one of which includes breaking School Records and qualifying for the Olympic Games. Although she hasn’t fully adjusted to her new environment, especially the weather which she has described as really cold, she believes that with time, she will get into her groove.

TEMITOPE ADESHINA (Texas Tech) – High Jump

Temitope Adeshina made patience her buzzword. With her life, career and progression, she has been patient, and when she finally hit the jackpot in 2023, rising over a massive PB of 1.94m in the High Jump, she was immensely grateful.

She won every competition she entered in 2023 and was crowned National Champion for the second consecutive time. She secured a scholarship with Texas Tech and is really happy about competing in the NCAA for the first time. “They have a lot of facilities and this year’s indoor competition will be my first indoors ever, so I’m looking forward to that,” she said.

Her transition has also been smooth and she hasn’t found it hard to adjust. “The people in Texas Tech make things easy for me. Trust me, they are nice people.” While she dreams of qualifying for the Paris 2024 Olympics and even picking up a medal, she light-heartedly made it known that she frequents the African market to get her food.


Chioma Nwachukwu has certainly come a long way since 2019-20 when she started going out for her school invitational relays. Her school’s sprint captain one day invited her to the stadium and from there, her coach picked interest in her and convinced her to join the club. After the COVID lockdown, she didn’t resume back to training because her mum feared she would become muscular and instead she was told to focus on her studies.

She managed to sneak out every now and then with the help of her siblings and eventually, her coach put her in for the U-15 2021 National Youth Games Trials. From there, she got called to represent Delta State and at this point, her mother had to oblige with the help of her father. She won the Bronze medal and by 2022, she broke 60 seconds for the first time, clocking 57.68s as her best of the season. Nwachukwu would better that by a lot in 2023, posting a big 53.37s at one of the AFN Golden League Meets in Benin.

That time was more than enough to qualify her for two Championship teams – African U-18 Championships and the Commonwealth Youth Games, although she wasn’t selected for both teams eventually. Although she was disappointed, she already did enough to get the attention of top universities in the US, getting offers from UTEP, Ohio, Iowa, Iowa Western SFA, Pittsburgh University, Liberty, Southern Florida and many more.

After speaking with the Assistant Coach of Iowa, one of the top D1 Universities, she decided to sign with the school. Excited about what is in the waiting for her, she will make her debut in the summer, hopes to improve her PB this year and even qualify for the World U-20 Championships in Lima.

Other female athletes whose signings have been made official include:

Fejiro Djoma (LSU) – Triple Jump

Opeyemi Deborah Oke (Auburn) – 400m

Grace Oshiokpu (Texas Tech) – Long Jump

Joy Udo-Gabriel (West Texas) – 100m, 200m

Blessing Akintoye (West Texas) – 200m, 400m

Esther Joshua (Coastal Carolina) – 400m

Omolara Ogunmakinju (Harding) – 400m

Praise Ofoku (LA Tech) – 100m, 200m

Joy Osarentin Usenbor (LA Tech) – 400m

Zanetta Udo-Obong (Lenoir-Rhyne) – 100m, 200m

Victoria Aransiola (Lenoir-Rhyne) – 100m, 200m

Ruth Agadama (South Plains) – Long Jump

Mabel Alagbe (VCU) – 100m, 200m

Laura Odivwri (MTSU) – High Jump

Victory Owhovoriole (MTSU) – 100m, 200m

Adijatu Rejoice Sule (UTEP) – 100m, 200m

Esther Osisike (UTEP) – Shot Put, Discus

Princess Chioma (UTEP) – 400m

Ada Bright (Miss. State) – 200m, 400m

Agu Chidinma Margaret (Jacksonville St.) – 200m, 400m

Eto Blessing Okpah (Jacksonville St.) – 100m, 200m

Marvellous Asemota (Southern Louisiana) – 100m, 200m

Immaculate Daniel (Southern Louisiana) – 100m, 200m

Favour Onyah (Southern Louisiana) – 400m

Blossom Omogor (Idaho) – 400m

Iyanuoluwa Bada (Nevada) – 100m

Meekness Dongoyaro (Nevada) – Triple Jump

Magdalene George (Nevada) – 100m

Ope Gift Ovedje (Nevada) – 400mH

Hannah Fatade (Cumberland Tennessee) – 800m

Adetutu Aladeloye (Colorado St.) – 100m, 200m

Joseph Providence (SFA) – 100m, 200m

Mercy Honesty (Iowa Western) – Long Jump, Triple Jump

Tina Samson (Iowa Western) – Heptathlon

Glory Okon (Iowa Western) – 400m


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