Nigeria’s new rave of the moment in men’s sprints, Divine Oduduru has confessed that he had a tough time growing up, when povery almost put paid to his dream, but he is now thrilled with his remarkable strides, and says he is grateful to everyone who has made it possible.
Oduduru was standing tall again at the weekend, after he came within a second of equaling the African 100m record held by compatriot, Olusoji Fasuba, and the lad admitted he is glad with everything he is achieving.
Just 45 minutes after closing in on Fasuba’s record, Oduduru broke his own Nigeria record in the 200m, as he lowered the mark again with his winning time which is third fastest in the world this year.
He used the moment to reflect on his grass to grace, rags to riches story, while acknowledging that it was through dint of determination that he embarked on the task of helping himself to a better life, having vowed as a youngster to one day get global acclaim in the sport.
Oduduru told the official website of World Athletics in a very emotional interview that he is the youngest of 10 children in his family, but grew up in abject poverty at the village of Ovworo near Ughelli, Delta State.
The 22-year old recalled that each day he had to help out his father (now late) on the small farm to cultivate crops, but he has now gone on to hog headlines each time he steps unto the tracks.
Now the cynosure of all eyes in USA’s collegiate athletics, Oduduru is already aiming high to make bigger marks at the World Championship later this year in Doha, Qatar, where he could again rival Fasuba and break the Africa record set over a decade ago in the same oil-rich city.
Oduduru said: “Life was really tough. For everyone, it was a struggle to survive. We walked to and from school and some days I didn’t eat.
“I was starving. It is only when I came home to the farm I get something to eat like Garri.
“I knew that I wanted to create a platform for myself and I was determined not to end up the same way as others.
“I’m definitely thinking of a medal (in Doha) and I’m working towards that goal.”