Ruth Usoro was the undisputed best women’s triple jumper this year in U.S. college competition, sweeping the NCAA championships in that event indoor and outdoor. Now she will get to see how she stacks up against the best in the world.
Usoro will be on the Nigerian Olympic team, Texas Tech coach Wes Kittley said Monday. Usoro’s home country officials didn’t make her compete in the triple jump at the National Athletics Olympic Trials that started Thursday after she had two days of travel delays getting to Lagos.
“They made her come home to show fitness,” Kittley said. “They didn’t make her triple jump, because of two days being stranded in Dallas. ‘Just show us fitness in front of the crowd, and that’s all we needed.’
“We were mad she had to even go home. She’s already met the Olympic standard.”
Usoro ranks among the top 10 in the world this year in the triple jump with her personal record of 47 feet, 7 inches achieved at a Tech home meet in April. She’s cracked 47 feet twice this year and 46 feet five other times.
She did compete in the long jump at the trials and likely will be on the start list for that event in Tokyo, too, Kittley said.
“I’m real excited for Ruth in the triple jump,” Kittley said, “because I believe, and I’ve told her this: ‘Ruth, go jump 14.50 (meters, which is 47-7), and you’re going to be close to getting a medal.’ I think if she can really have a great meet and jump near her personal best, right at 47-something, you’re going to have a chance.”
The Olympics are scheduled for July 23 through Aug. 8 in Tokyo, having been postponed from last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Nigerian track-and-field team likely will have four Texas Tech-connected athletes. Divine Oduduru will be on the team, Kittley said, though the four-time NCAA sprint champion for the Red Raiders has been nursing a leg injury and also was not required to run in the trials.
Oduduru ran the second-fastest 200-meter time in the world this year, a wind-legal 19.88 seconds, on April 29 in Jacksonville, Florida. He made the semifinals at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
The Nigerian women’s 400-meter relay team includes Texas Tech signee Rosemary Chukwuma from South Plains College and 2008 Olympics silver medalist Blessing Okagbare, who competed collegiately for UTEP but recently graduated from Texas Tech with a master’s degree.
The Nigerian women’s sprint relay ran a 42.97 on Sunday, which ranks them 15th in qualifying for 16 spots in Tokyo. They’ll make the Olympics provided two other countries don’t bump them out of the top 16 in the next week.
At the U.S. Olympic Trials on Sunday night in Eugene, Oregon, former South Plains College star Fred Kerley made Team USA in the 100 meters. Kerley ran a 9.92 in the semifinals and then a personal-record 9.86 for third place in the finals.
The U.S. men’s contingent of 100-meter runners all ran collegiately in Texas: Winner Trayvon Bromell at Baylor, runner-up Ronnie Baker at TCU and Kerley at SPC and Texas A&M.
Another South Plains College ex, Vernon Norwood, also put himself in good position to make his first Olympics. Norwood, 28, finished fifth in the 400-meters final with a time of 44.92. Only the top three advance to Tokyo in the 400, but fifth place probably will make Norwood part of the U.S. 1,600-meter relay pool.
On Monday, former Wayland Baptist and Texas Tech distance runner Benard Keter pulled away to win his heat of the 3,000-meter steeplechase with a time of 8 minutes, 29.04 seconds. The 29-year-old Keter, now a U.S. Army unit supply specialist, sports the uniform of the Army World Class Athlete Program. He’ll run for one of three Team USA spots in Tokyo at 6:42 p.m. CDT Friday at Hayward Field.
Keter won three NAIA national championships in distance events for Wayland Baptist from 2014-15. He then transferred to Tech and won four Big 12 titles from 2016-17 and achieved first-team all-America status at the 2017 NCAA outdoor championships. He graduated from Tech in 2018.
U.S. OLYMPIC TRIALS
Friday through June 27
at Hayward Field, Eugene, Oregon
Area athletes’ results, schedule
100 meters semifinals: 2. Fred Kerley, formerly South Plains College, 9.92 seconds; advanced to finals.
400 meters finals: 5. Vernon Norwood, formerly SPC, 44.92.
100 meters finals: 3. Fred Kerley, formerly SPC, 9.86; made U.S. Olympic team.
3,000 steeplechase first round: 11. Benard Keter, formerly Wayland Baptist and Texas Tech, 8 minutes, 29.04 seconds; advanced to finals.
Off day for all events.
Off day for all events.
All Times CDT
Long jump qualifying round: Monae Nichols, Texas Tech, 7:45 p.m.
Discus qualifying round: Duke Kicinski, formerly Texas Tech, 9:05 p.m.
400-meter hurdles first round: Faith Roberson, formerly Texas Tech, 5:35 p.m.
x-must qualify through previous round
Long jump qualifying round: Marquise Goodwin, Lubbock native, Charles Brown, formerly Texas Tech, Justin Hall, Texas Tech, Jarvis Gotch, formerly SPC, 3:30 p.m.
High jump qualifying round: Trey Culver, formerly Coronado HS and Texas Tech, 5 p.m.
Discus finals: x-Duke Kicinski, formerly Texas Tech, 5:30 p.m.
200 meters first round: Andrew Hudson, formerly Texas Tech, Fred Kerley, formerly SPC, 4:04 p.m.
110 hurdles first round: Robert Dunning, formerly SPC, 4:33 p.m.
3,000 steeplechase finals: Benard Keter, formerly Wayland Baptist and Texas Tech, 6:42 p.m.