Who will be the next NCAA Champion from Nigeria? Meet the contenders and former winners since 2010

Who will be the next NCAA Champion from Nigeria? Meet the contenders and former winners since 2010

Funmilayo Fameso 18:41 - 04.06.2024

A total of 23 Nigerian athletes (11 men and 12 women) qualified for the best in collegiate track and field championship this year. While all can't become champions, here's a look at the top contenders capable of claiming the NCAA title in their various events.

For the past decade, Nigerian athletes donning the colours of their various schools have produced strong performances at the NCAA Championships.

As the commencement of this year's edition will take place from June 5-8 at the University of Oregon, the question on everyone's lips is who will be the next NCAA Champion from Nigeria?

Udodi Onwuzurike shatters records to claim 200m title at PAC 12 Championships
Udodi Onwuzurike became the NCAA 200m champion in 2023

A total of 23 Nigerian athletes (11 men and 12 women) qualified for the best in collegiate track and field championship this year. While all cannot become champions, here's a look at the top contenders who'll be vying for the prestigious title in their various events.

Men's 100m

Favour Ashe leads this star-studded list with his Personal Best (PB) of 9.94s, and having missed his chance of claiming the title last year, the Auburn University speedster will be going all out for it this time around.

Favour Ashe sets sight on Fasuba's Nigerian record at NCAA Championships
Favour Ashe is a top favorite for the NCAA 100m title

The 22-year-old missed competing indoors but declared he's coming for everything outdoors and has backed his statement up so far by staying undefeated.

However, he'll have a strong competitor in his arch-rival Godson Brume, who is also chasing his first NCAA outdoor title. Last year, the Louisiana State University junior finished a painful second but is now more experienced to challenge again and get the needed victory.

Godson Brume withdraws from World Championships in Budapest
Godson Brume

Brume has already matched his PB of 9.99s to become the SEC Champion and punch his Olympic ticket. Considering he has so much longed for the bragging rights of being called an NCAA Champion, it may finally be his time.

An underdog in this story is Ashe's younger teammate Kanyinsola Ajayi, whose meteoric rise has seen him impressively lower his PB to 10.03s, as well as become the SEC Indoor Champion.

He has shown he improves with each race, and the NCAA Championships can see him rise to the occasion again with a sub-10s time, Top 3 finish, or perhaps the title.

Women's 100m

Texas Tech University's senior Rosemary Chukwuma gave a tip on what to expect at the NCAA West preliminaries when she blazed to the second-fastest time by a Nigerian female sprinter in history, clocking an outstanding 10.88s to win her quarterfinal heat and punch her ticket to the national championship.

Rosemary Chukwuma qualifies for NCAA 100m final in second fastest time
Rosemary Chukwuma

Just like Brume and Ashe, she was a finalist last year but didn't get her hands on a medal. Knowing this will be her last season as a college athlete, Chukwuma will be gunning to bow out as the NCAA Champion and become Nigeria's first female 100m winner since Blessing Okagbare achieved the feat in 2010.

Another underdog in this list is Tima Godbless - a freshman at Louisiana State University. She had a tremendous improvement at the West Preliminaries, where she lowered her 100m PB to 11.03s to qualify for the Olympics while also obliterating her 200m PB of 23.07s with a new 22.63s for her second ticket to the college national championship.

Tima Godbless

If she channels a better inner greatness in Oregon, Godbless can be the champion no one saw coming.

Men's 400m Hurdles

As the NCAA leader in this event with a massive PB of 48.00s, Ezekiel Nathaniel is surely the top favourite to claim this title and become Nigeria's first homegrown athlete to achieve this feat.

Ezekiel Nathaniel is a standout-student athlete for Baylor University

Last year, the Baylor University standout athlete finished in third, an upgrade from fourth position in his first season. The 20-year-old will not only be gunning to be crowned the NCAA Champion but aiming for a sub-48s mark, thus making him Nigeria's first in history.

Men's 400m

Rising star Samuel Ogazi is unarguably one of the next big names in the men's quarter-mile event after his astonishing progress this season that has seen him break the 400m World Best record for an 18-year-old to become faster than the great Usain Bolt.

Samuel Ogazi in action for University of Alabama

He stormed to a blistering 44.53s to win his quarterfinal heat at the NCAA East preliminaries. So, if there's anyone who can challenge NCAA leader Christopher Morales-Williams for the title, it's the University of Alabama freshman.

Men's Javelin Throw

Baylor University's Nnnamdi Chinecherem is the only college athlete to throw above the 80m mark this season at 82.54m.

Nnamdi Chinecherem retains Javelin title for Baylor at BIG 12 Championships
Nnamdi Chinecherem

After two consecutive third-place finishes at the championship, all is in his favour to finally claim the NCAA title. Successfully achieving this will see him become Nigeria's first in history.

Nigerian NCAA Outdoor Track and Field champions since 2010

  • 2023:Udodi Onwuzurike - 200m
  • 2021: Ruth Usoro - Triple Jump
  • 2019: Divine Oduduru - 100m & 200m
  • 2018: Divine Oduduru - 200m
  • 2017: Tobi Amusan - 100mH
  • 2010: Blessing Okagbare - 100m & Long Jump