2021 NCAA Indoor Championship: ‘Ruthless’ Usoro On The Cusp Of History

…Described by her coach as a rough diamond that will become a collosus in her events

Ruthless – Three years ago, Ruth Usoro soared to new personal bests in the long and triple jumps in her first season indoors in the United States of America. On March 3,2018 she hopped, stepped and jumped 13.01m in the triple jump. It was her first 13 metres leap over the distance. A lifetime best!.

In the long jump she has been consistently jumping 6.0,6.1m outdoors. Thus when she jumped 6.06m indoors in Lubbock, Texas on January 18,2018,it was seen as a reflection of how far she could jump horizontally.

Fast forward to February 2021.14.36m in the triple jump and 6.82m in the long jump. Incredible. Nobody saw the geometrical progression coming albeit the 23 year old served notice of a queen in the making the previous indoor season when she soared to new personal bests in the two events. She improved to 13.49m in the triple jump and 6.57m in the long jump. Both catapulted her to the top five in the Nigerian all-time indoor list.

In the triple jump she became the fifth best behind Domike Nkiruka (13.76m), Blessing Okagbare (13.64), Anigbata Chinonyelum (13.61) and Tessy Ebosele (13.54m) while in the long jump she leapt to number four behind Chioma Ajunwa (6.97m), Blessing Okagbare (6.87m) and Ese Brume (6.82m).

The incredible leap was noticed by James Thomas, Usoro’s jumps coach at the Texas Tech University.

Thomas is convinced the Nigerian’s incredible performance this season that will make her the cynosure of all eyes when the National Collegiate of Athletics Association (NCAA) Indoor Championship begins Thursday at the Randal Tyson Centre in Fayeteville, Arkansas would have been achieved a year earlier.

”The abrupt end to the 2020 season due to a world wide pandemic was the first obstacle. Her training and preparation for the 2020 NCAA Indoor Championships was the best I had ever seen in my coaching career. However, it was cancelled 12 hours before her first event was set to begin,’ said Thomas in an email to Complete Sports.

With the Nigerian still feeling the pains of her disappointment with the development, her world was, in the words of Thomas literarily shattered again.

Usoro however used the two developments to serve as the motivation she needed to soar to greater heights.

”Her world was shook a second time with the sudden passing of Coach Adu (Uruemu) that summer in Nigeria. An Incredible coach and mentor that has guided Ruth since her early youth level. Her passion and drive have always been high, but these events seemed to light a new fire to her motivation and determination. Her daily training and focus seemed to rise to an entirely different level,” Thomas revealed and agrees with one of Nigeria’s greatest sprinters of all time, Mary Onyali who says Usoro is just scratching the surface of what she is capable of achieving.

To Thomas, Usoro is the true definition of a rough diamond that will become a collosus in her events. The Nigerian seems to be proving him and Onyali right.

”Before the 2021 indoor season began, I told Ruth with full confidence that she would jump over 14m & 6.80m indoors. I believe this is truly just the beginning. She’s more than capable of being a 15m/7m+ jumper in the very near future. More importantly, she is beginning to believe it more and each day.

Thankfully, Ruth celebrates progress more than numerical performances. That type of attitude allows her to focus more on the broader goals,’ said Thomas who describes Usoro as a fantastic personality.

” We have a family driven culture at Texas Tech and Ruth (Usoro) walked in as the motherly figure to her teammates on day 1.On the surface, Ruth is one of the most quite, soft spoken, caring and humble human beings you will ever encounter. She is the spiritual leader and consistent calming voice of our team. When “RUTHless”, her alter ego/group nickname comes out, people get to see her incredible gifts in full force. This quiet passion in faith and competitiveness becomes a full blown ball of energy when she steps on a runway. It’s contagious and energizing to both competitors and fans,’ Thomas wrote to describe Usoro in the email to Complete Sports.

The Nigerian is ranked number one in both the triple jump (14.36m) and long jump (6.82m) for the indoor championships and she is on the cusp of history as the first Nigerian to successfully complete a long and triple jump double in the history of the championships.

She has already set the record as the first and only Nigerian to meet the qualification standard for the Tokyo Olympic Games this summer in both events. No Nigerian woman triple jumper has ever qualified for the quadrennial event and Usoro has now changed that unwanted history.

Thomas will not predict how far Usoro could jump in Tokyo but he believes she has as much passion competing for Texas Tech as Nigeria.

”Ruth wears a Texas Tech uniform each competition but I can assure you she is also wearing an invisible Nigerian cape like a superhero. I think the honour of putting on a Nigerian uniform in the Tokyo Olympics will be beyond impactful to Ruth. It’s difficult to make any predictions for newcomers on the international stage, but I am confident this will be another exciting chapter to an incredible book of life for Ruth.”

Like the biblical Ruth who was commemorated as a matriarch in the Calendar of Saints of the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, Usoro looks to be threading on the path of greatness. She has the talent to become the greatest jumper Nigeria has ever produced. She could become the first Nigerian woman to jump 15m+ and the first to jump farther than the 7.12m Chioma Ajunwa did to win Olympic gold in Atlanta in 1996.


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