Junior Udodi Onwuzurike introduced final month that he can be forgoing his final two years of school eligibility to start out his skilled profession as an Adidas athlete.
Onwuzurike, in his two years competing for Stanford, broke 4 particular person faculty data, contributed to the Stanford males’s third place end on the 2023 NCAA Observe and Subject Outside Championships and have become the primary Cardinal to win an NCAA dash title in 10 years when he ran 19.76 to take dwelling the 200-meters victory.
Onwuzurike is without doubt one of the greatest sprinters in Stanford historical past, however his legacy at Stanford goes past the numbers. As he prepares to embark on his skilled journey, Onwuzurike shares his journey at Stanford — whereas his teammates and coach reveal the impression he made on the faculty each on and off the observe.
Onwuzurike, impressed by his brother, began operating observe in fifth grade and hasn’t appeared again. In highschool, he turned the U20 200-meters world champion and was extremely wanted by the highest dash applications within the nation. Stanford, a distance-focused faculty, appeared an unlikely alternative for Onwuzurike.
“After I dedicated right here, lots of people instructed me … you’re making the fallacious choice, Stanford’s by no means had a sprinter do what you’ve achieved earlier than, your dash profession is simply going to die if you get there. So, it was very fulfilling to have the ability to come into Stanford and do what I got down to do,” Onwuzurike mentioned.
Onwuzurike actually capitalized on his two quick years at Stanford, however success didn’t come instantly. “Freshman 12 months, I got here into the NCAA pondering … I’m about to take over. I’m simply going to do precisely what I did in highschool and see if it really works … And it didn’t,” he mentioned.
Throughout his first 12 months on the collegiate circuit, he positioned third at Nationals within the 200 meter, and didn’t make the ultimate within the 100 meter, which he says was “not a mission achieved” for him.
So, Onwuzurike approached his subsequent season with a special mindset. “I got here into sophomore 12 months tremendous open-minded, realizing like … let me discover all of my weaknesses from the earlier 12 months after which simply hammer out all these factors,” he mentioned.
Onwuzurike locked in on the observe. “He’s one of many folks that I actually must cease from operating as a result of he’ll run himself an excessive amount of typically,” mentioned dash coach Jarius Cooper. “He’s his worst critic, which I believe most actually nice athletes at all times have a unconscious voice of that of their thoughts always. He works by means of these moments the place he doesn’t like what he’s doing and he works actually onerous to alter them in that second.”
Onwuzurike’s willpower went past the observe too — he spent one-on-one time with assistant coach Thomas Gesser within the weight room to get stronger and in addition met with the nutritionist to enhance his weight loss program.
Onwuzurike was open to suggestions, and even modified his operating kind in an effort to optimize efficiency in races. Based on Onwuzurike, what labored in highschool wasn’t as profitable on the collegiate degree, and he needed to adapt. “I actually needed to imagine in myself and [what] Coach has been telling me,” Onwuzurike mentioned.
This mindset paid off his sophomore season — and it began with Pac-12s. Having simply missed the title within the 200 meters his freshman 12 months, he mentioned he “actually got here with virtually a vengeance of like, let me see what I can do, let me see how briskly I can run, let me make some noise.”
This willpower led to a 200-meters victory and his first sub-20 second efficiency. From there, he saved bettering, culminating along with his 200-meters victory on the NCAA championships — one of many first meets the place his total household was within the stands cheering him on.
It was a dream come true for Onwuzurike. “It actually meant so much for me as a result of I at all times knew I might be an NCAA champion,” he mentioned.
Onwuzurike was not alone in his collegiate journey. “I’d say my teammates are among the most instrumental folks to assist me attain my success in observe, as a result of you really want folks to carry you down, you understand? Folks you may go to if you’re at your highs and if you’re at your lows,” Onwuzurike mentioned. “It actually seems like household right here.”
Junior sprinter Olufemi Cole, who ran with Onwuzurike throughout their Stanford-record-setting 4×100-meter relay, mentioned Onwuzurike had an intensely collaborative mentality.
“Contemplating the instances he was operating, he might have very simply been extremely self centered, however he was something however that,” Cole mentioned. “He at all times paid consideration to how the opposite members of our spirit squad, boy or woman, did throughout exercises, and supplied recommendation and encouragement … Even when it was not his major occasion, Dodi was prepared to step in and run when he was wanted, and that selflessness is what makes him such an important teammate.”
Not solely is Onwuzurike an exceptional teammate, however he’s additionally shut along with his coach. “We will chat about something on and off the observe … I believe that that’s what sort of helps us … lean on one another as we attempt to get totally different outcomes,” Cooper mentioned.
Onwuzurike, regardless of leaving Stanford, is constant to work with Cooper. “It is a new house for me and Coach Coop. That is my first time being knowledgeable, clearly. After which that is Coach Coop’s first time having to educate each a collegiate staff and knowledgeable athlete concurrently,” he mentioned.
Onwuzurike is worked up about what lies forward, his purpose being to compete for the Nigerian nationwide staff on the Olympics.
“I actually need to see what I can do, particularly with the upcoming Olympics — specializing in Paris 2024,” Onwuzurike mentioned. “I’m tremendous excited for that. I actually really feel like I can go on the market and get a medal for my nation, even for myself. And make a reputation for myself within the sport. I’m tremendous excited.”
Turning skilled early permits Onwuzurike to compete on the skilled circuit and problem himself towards the perfect on this planet. Nonetheless, it additionally means he has to depart his staff behind.
Coming from such a supportive staff environment at Stanford, when selecting which model to signal with, Onwuzurike was centered on discovering someplace that felt like dwelling. For Onwuzurike, it was Adidas, “a model that each my mother and father each love … I undoubtedly bought good suggestions from the household. I really feel like these three stripes are type of, only for me.”
Onwuzurike’s success conjures up his teammates. “I’ve at all times been tremendous impressed by Dodi as a result of every thing he does, he does for the love of the game,” mentioned junior Maya Valmon, a runner on the ladies’s staff who holds the college document within the 400 meters. “Going professional is a private dream of mine, so getting a front-row seat to observe him obtain that during the last two years has been unimaginable.”
He conjures up extra than simply his teammates. Not too long ago, Onwuzurike introduced that he turned the lead ambassador of MTN Champs, a corporation devoted to unlocking Nigeria’s international potential in sports activities. “I actually need to use my platform to encourage different athletes to imagine in themselves,” he mentioned.
Although Onwuzurike’s time competing for Stanford is over, he’ll carry the information and connections he gained right here at Stanford with him to the subsequent part in his profession.
“Stanford has helped me develop on the observe … operating sooner, being in an important staff environment, having an important coach. However most particularly, off the observe … it’s [given] me a fireplace of by no means giving up,” he mentioned.