Little-known Stanford University athlete Udodi Onwuzurike put on a brilliant show in the concluding stages of Day 4 at the World Athletics U-20 Championships. The fleet-footed Nigerian youngster stormed to a remarkable win in the men’s 200m final with a Personal Best (PB) of 20.21s, and clinched Gold for it.
Born in the United States to Nigerian parents, Onwuzurike decided for representing his fatherland and travelled down to Nairobi for his first taste of action in Nigerian colours. Now his story with Nigeria has taken to a quite dreamy start after his glorious win in the 200m on Saturday.
His campaign was actually like the proverbial bed of roses, from start to finish. In the heats on Friday, he stormed to an impressive 20.47s – which was a PB for him then – to emerge first overall in the round even though he had to run against a headwind of -1.0 m/s in his own heat.
Again, Onwuzurike led in the semi-final round after clocking a blazing 20.13s which would have earned him a Championship Record (CR) if not for the illegal tailwind of 2.3 m/s.
Then came Saturday when he was drawn in lane 3 for the final. He took to electric start in the race and the moment he took the lead – that being barely 50 meters into the race – there was absolutely no one catching up with him. He dominated from start to finish.
He clinched Gold with a PB and National U-20 Record time of 20.21s (+0.5). 100m champion from Thursday, Botswana’s Letsile Tebogo dipped in at 20.38s to place 2nd and bag Silver. South Africa’s Sinesipho Dambile wasn’t far behind as he came 3rd with a Season’s Best of 20.48s to claim Bronze medal and complete all-African podium placements.
On record, Onwuzurike is only the second Nigerian to win the 200m title at the Championships with Francis Obikwelu being the first (at the 1996 edition).
In related news, Favour Ofili won Nigeria Bronze in the women’s 200m final. She clocked a Personal Best and National U-20 Record time of 22.23s to finish 3rd behind the Namibia duo of Christine Mboma (CR of 21.84) and Beatrice Masilingi (PB of 22.18).