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Usoro starts well on debut for American College

*Wants to be beat Okagbare’s long jump feats

Ruth Usoro, Nigeria’s first athlete to leave for an American University since the inauguration of the new leadership of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) led by Dr Shehu Ibrahim-Gusau, won in her first outing in the indoor with a clear signal of doing great in the nearest future.

Coach Uruemu Adu...the man who discovered Ruth Usoro
Coach Uruemu Adu…the man who discovered Ruth Usoro

Miss Usoro got the long jump Gold at the Texas Tech. “It was a great maiden outing. Couple of things to polish up and the big jumps will come. She also have the second best jump for the Junior College in US this season. The 5:3metres she jumped wasn’t her leg measurement but her hair, said Chief Onyali who monitored her outing.

In a quick chat with her after the feat, she said, “God really helped me because my run-up was acting very funny during the checking time they gave us. And the first jump I had was so so big if not for my hair. Do you know I did 5:99 with my left leg?

Reacting, Chief Mary Onyali said, “her first jump was big if it wasn’t for her hair. It’s a learning curve for her. She naturally would have picked some lessons from the circumstance. I’ve told her to take down that hair
or pack it up. When she is done jumping, she can drop it back down. She competes next week at Texas A&M. hope she will return another spectacular outing. I am so proud of her.”

The Nigerian teenager who believes to be following the footsteps of Africa’s fastest woman, Blessing Okagbare-Ighoteguonor, (incidentally her role model who she (Ruth) looks forward to beating her long jump feats.

Usoro, a 2015 secondary school leaver of National College Gbagada in Lagos State was discovered by coach Uruemu Adu.

Calvin Robinson of Texas Tech with Ruth Usoro
Calvin Robinson of Texas Tech with Ruth Usoro

“Sincerely, I didn’t expect to participate or even win at the ECOWAS Games. When they broke the news to me that I made the team I was excited because it was my first time of representing my country. Head coach of Esteem Athletics Club of Lagos, Coach Uruemu Adu described Usoro as a very good language. “The athlete has a great future before her. She is elegant, an all-rounder, a sprinter and a jumper and I’ve been training her for 10 years now.

One of her coaches is long jump marvel Oluyomi Oladimeji Sule, her field event coach, who specialises in training long jumpers in the club. His assessment at the first Golden League before she left for America sees “Usoro is a unique and intelligent athlete. She is certainly going to be a massive blessing to Nigeria. Ruth is a very unique athlete; I will tell you she has good attributes some athletes don’t really have. She’s a special girl, blessed by God with talents and she’s using it the right way.

“It’s been a long time that I’ve seen a girl who is level-headed, talented and very intelligent; you tell her to do one thing and she does it with all her heart and mind. Coach Adu brought Usoro from the scratch, then she was on general training until 2014 and I mentored her on the technical part of her field events which is long jump.

James Thomas the jumps coach for Texas Tech with Ruth Usoro
James Thomas the jumps coach for Texas Tech with Ruth Usoro

“Her training generally and preparations for major competitions are being done by Coach Adu. When it’s time for training techniques, she comes to me and we’ve been doing that for two years now before this opportunity to go to America came.

Usoro, a native of Akwa-Ibom was born on the 8th October, 1997. She started her athletics career at the age of nine.

I told my dad I will love to represent my country, Nigeria in athletics. I had his support. At first, he thought I was joking and said do I think athletics is rice and beans? That was the word he used! But I kept on recalling my dad’s words and with time he knew I was very serious about it.

“My dad later took me to the National Stadium, Lagos and I met the stadium manager, but he said no other coach could handle me there that I should come the next day. I went there the next day and I met Coach Adu who I have been with for 10 good years,” she said.

Usoro has hit a personal best of 12.10s and 24.9s in the 100m and 200m respectively. She also has leaped a 6.11m in the long jump. Her lowest in the long jump was a 5.6m at the Sapele Golden League in 2017.

“My role model in athletics is Blessing Okagbare-Ighoteguonor. I wish before she retires I will have the opportunity to jump inside the same pitch with her. I will love to be better than her. For my long jump it’s Ese Brume whom I want to be better than also.

“Internationally for track, Allyson Felix, the 200 meters world record holder is my model. I will love to be better than her in that event. For my long jump, my idol is Bartoleta, she’s also from the US and the world record holder for the event now and I hope to surpass her record someday.”

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