Rhema Otabor wins NCAA javelin title

RHEMA Otabor getting ready to throw the javelin.

RHEMA Otabor getting ready to throw the javelin.


RHEMA Otabor with her Nebraska coach, Justin St Clair.


Senor Sports Reporter


NEBRASKA'S junior Rhema Otabor got the early lead and held on for a personal best and collegiate leading mark to win the women's javelin title at the National Collegiate Athletic Association Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Austin, Texas.

Otabor headed a list of Bahamians in action over the four days of competition, including Terrence Jones, Charisma Taylor, Shaun Miller Jr and Anthaya Charlton, who all participated in their individual events at the Mike A. Myers Stadium. 

In Thursday night's final on the campus of the University of Texas, Otabor's huge toss of 195-feet, 2-inches or 59.49 metres in the second round was good enough for her to secure the win as she broke her own school record of 194-6 (59.28m).

She became the second Nebraska javelin thrower to win a national title, joining 1995 champion Denise Thiemard. She was also the second Bahamian to clinch the title. Retired national record holder Lavern Eve was the first to win it – in 1987 for Louisiana State University. 

Otabor now has the second best throw by a Bahamian, trailing Eve, who threw 63.73m for her national record feat in Nashville, Tennessee on April 22, 2000. The 20-year-old Otabor was elated with the victory more than anything else. 

"I was really proud about my performance and I was really happy that I was able to execute my technique and my throws the way I wanted to, so I was very happy with my performance," Otabor said.

From the first round, Otabor dropped the gauntlet on the field with a 193-8 (59.04m) heave to snatch the lead. Although she wasn't challenged, she pushed her mark further for the winning toss with the spear on the second attempt.

With a comfortable cushion, Otabor relaxed and watched as her nearest rival, Lianna Davison, a sophomore at Texas A&M, could only muster a 182-10 (58.78m) on her fifth attempt.

"I wasn't concerned about going into the rest of my throws because essentially after I released the first throw and I knew it was a really good throw to get me into the final, I was a little relieved and I was able to be more aggressive with my second throw," Otabor said.

After she was declared the winner, Otabor could be seen getting a big congratulatory hug from her coach Justin St. Clair. 

"After I found out that my first place was solidified, I could not put my feelings into words," she remembered. 

She had to go into anti-doping immediately afterwards, so she really couldn't celebrate with her family and friends on hand. But she took advantage of it the next day with lunch with her aunts Latina Lightbourne and Letitia Dean, who made the trip from The Bahamas for the event. 

They were joined by Otabor's brother Michaelangelo Bullard, a javelin thrower as well, who is attending Texas State, but Bullard didn't compete as he had to redshirt this season because of an injury.

Otabor, a graduate of Nassau Christian Academy. will compete in another meet in the United States before returning home for the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations' National Championships, July 5-7 at the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium.

Hopefully by then she will have surpassed the qualifying standards of 209-4 (63.80m) for the World Championships in Budapest, Hungary from August 17-26. If she doesn't, Otabor feels she should be able to secure an invite from World Athletics based on her world ranking.

The member of the Blue Chip Athletics Throwers Club, headed by coach Corrington Maycock, thanked all who supported her in her journey so far and said that she "hopes to continue to make you proud."

Jones third in 200m

After missing out on an opportunity to advance to the final of the men's 100m, Terrence Jones made up for it in the final of the 200m on Friday night. with a lifetime best of 19,.87 for fourth place.

The Grand Bahamian, competing for Texas Tech, sped out front in lane nine coming off the curve to hold the lead on the home stretch. He maintained his position for the majority of the race until he was caught and passed in the winding metres by Udodi Onwuzurike, a sophomore at Stanford, who took the tape in 19.84 with Jones' team-mate Courtney Lindsey picking up second in his PR of 19.86.

Jones trailed through the line behind the duo to become just the second Bahamian to dip under the 20-second barrier, Only national record holder Steven Gardiner, whose best of 19.75 from April 7, 2018 in Coral Gables, Florida, is faster. 

This has been a sensational year for Jones, who on April 15, matched Derrick Atkins' national record of 9.91 that he set at the World Championships in Osaka, Japan in 2007 for the bronze medal,

Jones, however, missed a chance to compete for the sprint double at the nationals, He could only muster a 10.06 for 11th place in the 100m semis on Wednesday night. More disappointment came Friday when he anchored Texas Tech to an apparent victory in the men's 4 x 100m, but they were eventually disqualified.

Taylor fourth/sixth

The women's triple jump on Saturday was the last event for Tennessee's senior Charisma Taylor to shine as she brought her collegiate career to a close.

She soared 45-81/2 (13.93m) on her first attempt that had her sitting in third place until Ruta Lasmane of Texas Tech shot past her with 46-71/2 (14.21m) on her third try to hold onto third. Taylor dropped to fourth place.

Jasmine Moore of Florida surged ahead of the chart with 48-6 (14.78m) for a PR, collegiate lead, meet and collegiate records with 48-6 (14.78m) over second place finisher Ackella Smith of Texas with 47-81/2 (14.54m).

The performance came after she had a heavy work schedule on Thursday. 

Taylor was sixth in the long jump final with her leap of 21-1/2 (6.41m). She was also 10th in the semi-finals of the 100m hurdles when she ran 12.94. The ninth and final spot went into the final with 12.91.

Miller tied for fourth

In one of the most keenly contested finals in the men's high jump, Shaun Miller Jr of Ohio State finished tied with four other competitors at 7-1 (2.16m) for fourth place overall.  

Romaine Beckford of South Florida beat out Vernon Turner of Oklahoma on fewer knockdowns at 7-51/4 (2.27m) for the win. Roberto Vilches of Missouri was third with 7.41/4 (2.24m).

Charlton 11th

In her debut at the NCAA Championships for the University of Kentucky, Anthaya Charlton ran 11.18 for 11th place overall in the semifinals on Thursday night. That eliminated her from the final.

She made up for her exit by running the second leg for Kentucky in the women's 4 x 100m relay final on Saturday as they clocked 42.46 to trail Texas with their winning time of 41.60.

Charlton was in the same spot as she helped Kentucky win their heat in a season's best of 42.30 for the second fastest qualifying time behind Texas with the collegiate leading, facility, meet and collegiate records in 41.55.

Joining Charlton on the team were Victoria Perrow, Masai Russell and Karima Davis.

Moss and Kentucky sixth

Megan Moss, running on the second leg, helped Kentucky to a sixth place finish in the final of the women's 4 x 400m relay as the curtain came down on the meet on Saturday night.

Moss and her teammates Karimah Davis, Tamila Fuller and Dajour Miles clocked a season's best of 3:27.47. But Arkansas emerged as the champions in their season's best of 3:24.05.

In the semifinals, the same quartet ran 3:29.95 for second place in their heat behind Duke (3:28.84) and the tenth overall, but the ninth fastest on the qualifying standard to book the final spot into the final. Duke ended up eighth in the final.  

Valcourt didn't finish

In the women's 400m semi final on Thursday, Javonya Valcourt started the last of three heats of the women's 400m semi final, but she stopped running at the crack of the gun. There was no indication of whether or not she suffered an injury.

McCoy and Clemson didn't finish

Wanya McCoy, running the pop off leg for Clemson, watched in disbelief as their men's 4 x 400m relay team fail to finish the race after their third leg runner couldn't hold onto the baton on the exchange from the second runner.


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