World U20 Championships: Udodi Onwuzurike Makes Statement

* Brother Rice graduate Udodi Onwuzurike is the top seed heading into the World U20 Championship 200m final on Saturday

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Stepping into the blocks for his semifinal heat on Friday at the World U20 Championships in Nairobi, Kenya, Udodi Onwuzurike knew what was possible. 

Earlier that morning, the Stanford recruit and Nigerian U20 athlete had broken 21 seconds for the first time in his career, eclipsing his previous best of 21.01 seconds at the MHSAA Division I State Championships in June with a time of 20.47 seconds.

Be the best, perhaps he thought. 

Onwuzurike left preliminaries as the top seed heading into the semifinals. 

And so, as the pressure mounted, he may have welcomed in that moment: Onwuzurike would go on to clock an all-conditions time of 20.13 (+2.3) seconds on Friday in Kasarani Stadium, the fastest across all three heats. 

He missed a wind-legal mark by an agonizing 0.3 meters per second, though he'll leap into the finals on Saturday with an opportunity to earn a World U20 title.

Of course, that won't be a given, either.

Botswana's Letsile Tebogo ran 20.31 seconds in the semifinals, while Uganda's Tarsis Orogot clocked a new national U20 record of 20.37. A total of five athletes went under 20.50 seconds. 

Still, Onwuzurike's performances on Friday were the best of his career. 

Tomorrow, he could be searching for a championship record of 20.17, which Michael Norman last accomplished for the United States in 2016. 

The Nigerian U20 athlete will also compete for his delegation's 4x100 team starting Thursday. 

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World U20 Championships Day 1 Recap: Heather Abadie Earns A Medal

Men's 200m: The 200m is crowded. While Onwuzurike was the man to beat on Friday, several others with backstories in the states also showed off their talents. San Antonio Roosevelt graduate Nazzio John reached the semifinals with a time of 20.94 seconds, then failed to qualify for the finals, even though he notched a semifinals time of 20.79. Bahaman Wendell Miller, who won a few titles at the AAU Club Championships, was just off the mark in the semifinals, too, clocking a time of 20.69. His compatriot, Carlos Brown, posted a 20.92 in the semifinals, too. 

Women's 200m: University of Houston's Camille Rutherford once again made her way through the first round only to miss out on qualifying for the finals, posting a time of 23.76 seconds in the semifinals. The George Ranch graduate was the first athlete out, and just six-hundredths of a second shy of the qualifying time. She ran 23.62 in the opening heats. 

Men's 100mH: The biggest performance of Friday's action in Nairobi was here, where French athlete Sasha Zhoya ran a new World U20 record of 12.93 seconds in the semifinals, advancing to the finals on Saturday. 

Women's 100mH: Baylor University freshman Ackera Nugent, a native of St. Andrews, Jamaica, was fastest across all sections in the semifinals on Friday, clocking a leading time of 13.02 seconds to reach the finals on Saturday. She ran a first-round time of 13.35 seconds.



Men's 100m: San Antonio Roosevelt (TX) graduate Nazzio John finished seventh overall in the final, posting a time of 10.52 seconds.

Men's 400mH: Millbrook (NC) graduate Dillon Leacock was entered but did not start in his heat. He was set to represent Trinidad & Tobago. 

Women's 400mh: Jamaican Garriel White, who we last saw in 2020 at the VA Showcase, where she finished fifth in the 500m in 1:13.39 -- she was also part of two Hydel relays -- was fourth overall in the heats, running a time of 58.65.