Ogazi leads list of four Nigerian debutants seeking NCAA glory in Oregon

Samuel Ogazi will be the cynosure of all eyes when the men’s 400m race of the NCAA Division I 2024 Outdoor Track and Field Championships begins at the University of Oregon in Eugene, Orergon next week.

Ogazi, 17, the reigning African U18 and U20 200m and 400m champion is leading three other Nigerians who will be dreaming of making the podium in their debut season.

The other three are sprinter, Kanyinsola Ajayi of Auburn University and Texas Tech University jumpers, Grace Oshiokpu and Temitope Ajayi.

Ogazi is first on the list of favourites for the 400m gold and will be keen to not only become the second Nigerian after Clement Chukwu (44.79 in 1999) to win the event but also break Innocent Egbunike’s long standing 44.17 Nigerian record.

The University of Alabama freshman has ran inside 44.60 twice (44.58 and 44.53) to move to second on the Nigerian all-time list and will be looking to break new ground by becoming the first Nigerian to run a sub-44 seconds in the full lap race.

Ajayi, also a freshman, this time at Auburn University, will be aiming to surmount not just the Nigerian obstacles in form of Favour Ashe and Godson Oghenebrume but also others to make history.

The 19 year old ran a 10.03 seconds lifetime best last week and knows he will need to become the 14th Nigerian man to run inside 10 seconds in Oregon to get his ambition actualized.

Also wishing to soar and land on the podium will be Adeshina who set a new 1.96m Nigeria high jump record in January.

The 25 year old has not replicated that feat outdoors with the 1.90m she cleared in Waco, Texas on the 43rd anniversary of of the death of Bob Marley her best.

Oshiokpu, the reigning African U18 long and triple jump champion will also be dreaming, especially after setting a 13.40m new lifetime best just last week.

The 18 year old will be seeking to become the second Nigerian after Ruth Usoro in 2021 to be crowned NCAA triple jump champion.

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