By Amaechi Agbo
As the global athletes gear up for the 32nd global sports fiesta, the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games scheduled to commence from July 23rd through August 8th, 2021, we take a look at the Nigeria athletes (track and field) hoping to get podium finish as the summer games draw nearer.
We commence this series with Nigerian national record holder in 200m, Divine Oduduru.
26 years Ejowvokoghene Divine Oduduru was born on 7 October 1996 in Ughelli, Delta State, South-South Nigeria.
He is Nigerian track and field sprinter specializing in the 100-meter dash and 200-meter dash events. He holds personal bests of 9.86 seconds for the 100 m and 19.73 seconds for the 200 m. The latter is a Nigerian national record.
In age category competitions, he was a twice-champion at the African Youth Athletics Championships, a five-time African Junior Champion in the sprints and the 200 m silver medallist at the 2014 World Junior Championships. He represented Nigeria as a senior athlete at the 2014 Commonwealth Games and 2014 African Championships in Athletics, before winning a 200 m silver medal at the 2015 African Games.
He is a two-time Nigerian national champion and is a four-time National Collegiate Athletic Association, NCAA champion in American collegiate competition, running for the Texas Tech Red Raiders.
He is sponsored by Puma
Divine Ran Against Usain Bolt In 2016 Rio Olympics
Running against Usain Bolt in his Olympic debut at Rio 2016, Divine Oduduru was inspired to a Personal Best (PB) of 20.34s in 2nd place behind the Jamaican and was in fact, the only Nigerian to make it into a semi-final across any of the men’s sprints.
He has however since then, made huge strides competing in the NCAA for Texas Tech, breaking multiple School Records (SR) and National Records (NR) in his three years at the institution before turning pro.
In his sophomore year, he shattered the Nigerian Indoor 200m Record held by Francis Obikwelu with a 20.18s run, finishing 2nd at the NCAA Indoor Championships in 20.21s and then stunned a quality field to take the men’s 200m at the 2018 NCAA Outdoor Championships.
At the Big 12 Indoor Championships in 2019 he turned in a blazing 20.08s to win the 200m, the 3rd fastest time in history and won his first NCAA Indoor title a week after.
Outdoors at the Michael Johnson Invitational, he sped to a massive 9.94s run over 100m, becoming the first Nigerian man to dip under 10s in 12 years and then topped it off with the 200m, shattering one more of Obikwelu’s NRs with a stunning 19.76s clocking.
Oduduru would break the 10s barrier four more times, peaking at the NCAA Outdoor Championships with a PB & SR of 9.86s, moving up to joint 2nd on the African all-time list alongside Frankie Fredericks and 2nd on the NCAA all-time list.
He secured the double by defending his 200m title, even going better with an NR and Championship Record (CR) of 19.73s – 2nd all-time in NCAA history behind Walter Dix.
He competed in a handful of meets in 2020 and now as one of the fastest men in the world, Oduduru will set his sights on a second Olympic appearance with strong chances of picking a medal.
It is hoped that in Divine Oduduru, Nigeria has a bright hope of a medal finish in 100m and 200m dash come Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan’s capital city in July.