• Friday, July 12, 2024
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Ruth Usoro: Nigerian triple jumper with Olympic gold on her mind

Ruth Usoro

By: Mary-Louisa William

Ruth Usoro, the reigning All-African Games Champion in the Triple Jump, a 2022 World Championships finalist, and a two-time NCAA division one triple jump champion from her time at Texas Tech. Usoro is also one of two athletes qualified to compete in the Long Jump at the 2024 Olympics in Paris this August.

Background
When asked to introduce herself, the 26-year-old All-African Games winner began with, “First off, I’m a child of God,” reflecting her deep Christian faith. Born in Akwa-Ibom state in southern Nigeria, she grew up in Lagos as the youngest in a family of six. Her father, a passionate soccer player, inspired her love for sports.

Olympic Goals and Expectations
Following her massive jump at the Jarvis Scott Open, Usoro qualified for the 2024 Olympics in Paris. The Texas Tech University athlete leaped 6.87 metres in her last attempt to beat the Olympic qualifying standard of 6.82 metres. By winning the long jump category at the Open, Usoro qualified for her debut Olympic Games after missing out on the 2020 Games.

Ruth is now focused on staying healthy, training diligently, and maintaining her faith as she prepares for the 2024 Paris Olympics. She aims to win an Olympic medal and believes in the potential of the Nigerian team to achieve great success. Ruth’s calm attitude and unwavering faith help her manage the pressures of high-level competition.

Exposure to Track and Field
Ruth’s interest in track and field began when her family watched the Olympics, likely the 2008 edition. Inspired by the athletes, she declared to her father that she would one day represent her country. Her first competition was a Cowbell-sponsored event at the University of Lagos, where she won a cherished flask.

Ruth Usoro’s official journey in track and field began when her father took her to a Lagos stadium, where she met Coach Uremu Adu. Ruth competed in various school competitions, developing her skills and winning multiple medals. Her family, especially her initially sceptical older sister, eventually supported her athletic pursuits.

Journey from Lagos to the USA
Ruth’s journey to the USA was facilitated by the esteemed Mary Onyali-Omagbemi, a former sprinter and Olympic medalist. Mary helped Ruth secure interviews and opportunities, leading her to South Plains College and later Texas Tech, where she earned degrees in Communication Studies and Mass Communication. Ruth recalls her challenging upbringing in Lagos and the strict yet supportive environment her parents provided, which kept her focused with her school and training.

Olympic Qualification
Ruth’s Olympic qualification process for the Long Jump was nothing short of miraculous. After a disappointing performance in Boston, she felt uncertain about competing again. However, she felt God urging her to compete at a meet at Texas Tech, where she achieved her Olympic qualification. Ruth emphasizes the importance of faith and listening to divine guidance in her journey.

Training Regimen and Diet
Ruth’s training varies by season, with intense workouts from November to January and more focused sessions as competitions approach. She trains 4-5 times a week, incorporating rest days for recovery. Her diet includes healthy foods, with an emphasis on vegetables, carbs, and protein. Despite enjoying the occasional treat, she maintains a balanced diet to support her athletic performance.

Setback at Tokyo 2020 Olympics
Ruth was one of the athletes ruled ineligible to compete at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics due to non-compliance with drug testing requirements. This setback deeply affected her, but she eventually found solace in her faith and the support of friends. Ruth emphasizes the importance of developing interests outside of athletics to navigate such challenges.

As Ruth Usoro sets her sights on the Paris Olympics, her journey of faith, resilience, and determination continues to inspire many. With her unwavering focus and commitment, she aims not only to compete but to bring home an Olympic medal for Nigeria.

Mary-Louisa William