Nigerian sprinter Divine Oduduru announced Thursday he is forgoing his final year of eligibility at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas to sign a professional contract, Completesports.com reports.
This came barely a week after Oduduru shot into international limelight with his stunning sprint double at the 2019 NCAA Division 1 Championship at the Mike Myers Stadium in Austin, Texas.
The feat shot him into history books as the second Nigerian man and third African to successfully complete a sprint double in the history of the championship.
“Thank you @TexasTechTF, these last few years have been filled with opportunity & memories. Now I’ve decided to pursue my career at the professional level,” Oduduru tweeted via his handle @odudurudivine1.
The announcement came just a day after American, Sha’Carri Richardson, a freshman at Louisiana State University who rewrote the NCAA and world U-20 record books with her unthinkable 10.75 seconds run in the 100m announced she will forgo the rest of her collegiate eligibility in favour of signing a professional contract.
At the NCAA championship, Oduduru ran inside 10 and 20 seconds in his individual races in both the semi-finals and finals for the wins. His finals time in the 100m – a 9.86 – was the second-fastest ever run in the Championship and tied him for the world lead for one week (American Chris Coleman ran 10.85 seconds at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Oslo Thursday evening to emerge the world leader). His blistering 200m time of 19.73 counted as the NCAA Championship record and put him third in the world this year.
While the Nigerian’s decision may have come as a surprise to some,Texas Tech University head coach, Wes Kittley actually predicted it.
In fact, Kittley may have advised the 22 year old to follow Richardson’s path going by his comments on Tuesday.
Kittley said it would be prudent for Oduduru to forgo his senior season and lock in life-changing money now by signing a pro contract.
“I’m going to encourage him to,” Kittley said. “He’d turn down too much money. He can tweak his hamstring next year and get nothing. How are you going to turn down $350,000 for five years or $400,000 for five years or $500,000 for five years — two and a half million dollars?
“You can’t do it. Not in our world. Not in the track world. I mean, that’s a lot. He’s a sprinter, so he has an opportunity to get some of that bigger money.”
Oduduru had the world lead in the 200m this year for more than a month after he ran a 19.76 seconds on April 20 in Waco. That stood until last week when Michael Norman and Noah Lyles, running against each other at the Diamond League meeting in Rome, ran 19.70 and 19.72 last week Thursday. Then Oduduru ran his 19.73 the next day (Friday).
The Nigerian won four individual NCAA championships: the 200m at the 2018 outdoor, the 2019 indoor and the 2019 outdoor, and the 100m at the 2019 outdoor. And during this year’s Big 12 championships in Lubbock, Oduduru ran a 20.08 200m, the third-fastest time ever recorded indoors.
By Dare Esan