From a being postponed due to a pandemic, to a series of controversies, year’s Olympics have undoubtedly gripped the world’s attention. Yet amid all of the headlines, there are a few athletes that we should all be paying special attention to. Athletes like Quanera Hayes, Tovea Jenkins, Chidi Okezie are representing HBCUs in sports that include basketball and track and field. Learn all about the top HBCU athletic talent in the world in the article below.
After setting a national record for Nigeria, Hampton University alumnus Chidi Okezie and his teammates are in Tokyo! The track and field athlete successfully competed on Nigeria’s mixed 4×400 relay team, evening creating a record for the country.
According to Punch Nigeria, the mixed team saved the day after Nigeria’s men’s 4x100m relay team was not able to qualify for the event. It was the for the third consecutive time the team had missed the mark. The 4 runners weren’t able to meet the 38.46 second target at relays in Lagos on Sunday and sadly left disappointed
Hampton University track and field alum Chidi Okezie anchored the Nigerian Mixed 4×400 relay team to an Olympic qualifying and Nigerian National Record time of 3:14.09 on Sunday at the Yabatech Sports Complex in Lagos. The time ranks the team 16th in the world.
Johnson C. Smith University
Tovea Jenkins, a 2017 Johnson C. Smith University graduate, will be competing in the Tokyo Olympics! According to her alma mater, the Kingston, Jamaica native stood out in the 400-meter race and won her ticket to this year’s games.
The 2017 NCAA Division II outdoor champion on the 4×400 meters relay team, ran a personal best of 50.68 as she placed fifth at the Jamaica National Championship meet on Sunday, June 27, 2021, securing her spot on the Jamaican Olympic Team.
After an impressive performance at the Olympic trials that landed her in first place, Livingstone College alumna Quanera Hayes is on her way to the Olympics! In 2015, Hayes was among our best and brightest when she landed on our HBCU Top 30 Under 30 list in 2015.
The 2015 Livingstone College graduate and Hope Mills native finished first at 49.78 seconds in the women’s 400-meter race, besting Olympics-decorated champion Allyson Felix, who came in second at 50.2 seconds, with Wadeline Jonathas rounding out the top three.
She was a 12-time NCAA All-American – indoor and outdoor track; a four-time NCAA Outdoor Track Champion (three times in 400 meters and once in the 200 meters); an eight-time school record holder; and USTFCCCA (US Track and Field Cross Country Coaches Association) Athlete of the Year Indoor and Outdoor.
North Carolina A&T State University
North Carolina A&T State University has four student-athletes in Tokyo for the Olympics. Aggies track and field director Duane Ross Sr. has worked since 2012 to ensure that Aggies stay on top of their game.
According to The Undefeated, the following daring athletes will be competing in the 4×400-meter men’s relay team, in Tokyo: Ross’ son, sophomore (Duane) Randolph Ross Jr., and Trevor Stewart, a senior from Lorton, Virginia, will represent the United States. Daniel Stokes, a junior from Pomona, California, will compete for Mexico, and Akeem Sirleaf, a graduate student from St. Paul, Minnesota, will compete for Liberia.
Saint Augustine’s University
Saint Augustine’s University graduate Shawn Rowe is another athlete representing HBCUs in Tokyo. According to SAU, the former Falcon is representing Jamaica in the 400-meter hurdles.
The 2017 SAU graduate, was a four-time NCAA Division II national champion and six-time first-team All-American in college. He won the 400 hurdles national title and helped the Falcons win two national crowns and four CIAA titles. He also earned accolades like the men’s outdoor runner of the year in the CIAA and NCAA DII Atlantic Region. He was a CIAA 400 hurdles and 60 hurdles champion. CIAA Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year and a CoSIDA Academic Track & Field All-American.
Tia-Adana Belle is also a Saint Augustine’s University graduate and track athlete with several records behind her name.
This is the second time Belle has made it to the Olympics. Her first time was in 2016 in Rio. Six of the top seven Division II times in history have her name on it.
Belle dominated the 400 hurdles event as a collegian, She also won three straight Division II national titles from 2015 to 2017, is a 12-time All-American, held Women’s Outdoor Track Athlete of the Year in the CIAA and more.
Savannah State University
Former Savannah State University women’s basketball star Ezinne Kalu will lead the Nigerian women’s basketball team at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics beginning next week.
For only the second time in the African nation’s history, Nigeria will be represented in women’s basketball on the world stage. Kalu, an American-born dual citizen, was a pivotal part of the D’Tigeress’ journey to Tokyo.