By Dare Esan: Five-time African junior champion Divine Oduduru raced into history books at the weekend at the Texas Tech Open indoor meet at the Sports Performance Center where he smashed the Texas Tech University 60m and 200m records in personal-best setting fashions.
The Nigerian was in blistering form first in the 60m, running 6.58 seconds to not only better his season-opening time of 6.66 seconds but also the school record of 6.64 seconds he earlier set in the first round of the two-day meeting.
The time also catapaulted him to number 10 in the Nigerian all-time list behind Deji Aliu (6.48),Olusoji Fasuba (6.49), Tosin Ogunnode (6.50), Davidson Ezinwa (6.51), uChidi Imoh, Osmond Ezinwa, Seun Ogunkoya, the late Sunday Emmanuel (6.52) and Olapade Adeniken (6.57).
If Oduduru’s 60m performance was impressive, his school and Nigeria record-smashing run in the 200m was mind-blowing.
The 2014 IAAF World Junior 200m Silver Medallist claimed his third Texas Tech indoor all-time record this year with a blazing fast 20.18 finish. Oduduru’s performance staked a claim on the No. 3 all-time NCAA performance list, beating out a 20.19 run from Trayvon Bromell of Baylor from 2015.
The time is not only a Nigerian record, supplanting the 20.46 seconds Francis Obikwelu ran in 1999 in Lievin,France, it is also the second fastest 200m indoor time ever run by an African after Frankie Fredericks 19.92 run in Lievin,France in 1996 and ranks as the fourth fastest time in the world in the all-time list behind Fredericks’ 19.92,Wallace Spearmon’s 20.10 in 2005 and Christian Coleman’s 20.11 seconds ran only last year.
Oduduru’s head coach at Texas Tech University,Wes Kittley described his Nigerian import as something special.
“He really is something special.We were hoping for 6.60, but he blew us away with that 6.58.
“He’s got it in him and we’re looking forward to seeing what else he can do,” he said.
Local athletics watchers believe Oduduru looks good in becoming the second Nigerian after Obikwelu (19.84 seconds) to break the 20 seconds barrier in the 200m outdoors.
“Obikwelu ran 20.46 in February of 1999 and raced into another history books in Seville, Spain later that summer with a 19.84 clockings to become the first and so far only Nigerian to run inside 20 seconds,” said respected and highly successful athletics coach Tony Osheku, who trained Falilat Ogunkoya to two Olympic medals and African records as well as four back-t-back 400m finals at the IAAF flagship event, the outdoor World Championships.