ON THIS DAY: Keturah Orji Makes Collegiate History
Back in 2016, Keturah Orji staked her claim as not only the best triple jumper in collegiate history, but – maybe, just maybe – the best American woman to ever to do it, period.
Here’s the thing: Orji was just a sophomore at Georgia when she originally broke the American and collegiate outdoor record with her title-winning mark of 14.53m (47-8) at the 2016 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships at Hayward Field.
From The USTFCCCA InfoZone: Records & Lists
Two years later, Orji further cemented her standing – at least on the collegiate level.
It was at the 2018 SEC Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Knoxville, Tennessee, where Orji bounded 14.62m (47-11¾) on her final attempt to better her own collegiate record to its current position. That wouldn’t be an improvement on her own since-broken American record at the time, however, as Orji already surpassed that mark by more than four inches at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games where she placed fourth with an effort of 14.71m (48-3¼).
Fans probably knew something special was going to happen on Rocky Top that day.
Orji opened the competition with a barely wind-aided 14.49m (47-6½) – and we mean, barely wind-aided at 2.1 m/s – which would have been the No. 2 mark in collegiate history, if it had the allowable wind of 2.0 m/s. Then after three fouls, Orji went 14.51m (47-7¼) with a 2.4 m/s wind at her back, once again stopping that from being etched into the collegiate record book.
One attempt later, the stars aligned – and the wind died down – for Orji.
The future winner of The Bowerman made it look effortless as she transitioned between her three phases. By the time she landed in the pit and the officials measured 14.62m (47-11¾), the competition had long been knocked out and Orji reigned supreme. Orji ended up winning by nearly two feet.
Fast forward one month and Orji won her fourth consecutive NCAA outdoor triple jump title. Orji became only the fifth woman in NCAA DI history to sweep a particular outdoor event in their career, joining Suzy Favor in the 1500 (1987-1990), Jacquelyn Johnson in the heptathlon (2004-2008), Seilala Sua in the discus (1997-2000) and Angela Williams in the 100 Meters (1999-2002). Orji also added the long jump crown that same year to prove that she truly ruled the runway.
And if you need MORE proof about her incredible acumen in just the outdoor triple jump alone, look in the record books. Orji owns eight of the all-time top-10 marks in American history (Nos. 2-7, 9-10) and six of the top-7 marks in collegiate history (Nos. 1-2, 4-7).