[Posted July 10, 2016] A powerful first-day performance set up 2007 Uni grad Barbara Nwaba to win her second consecutive U.S. championship in the heptathlon and qualify her for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Pictured above: Barbara Nwaba ‘07 (Photo courtesy Santa Barbara Track Club)
Competing at Oregon’s Hayward Field in cloudy and rainy conditions, Nwaba finished in the top three in three of the four first-day events in the heptathlon: the high jump (first, 6-2 3/4), shot put (third, 46-5 1/2) and 200 m (third, 24.17). She also ran the 100 m hurdles in 13.65 (10th place) for a total of 3,903 points, comfortably ahead of the field.
On Sunday, she did poorly in the long jump (19-2 3/4 for 14th), then rebounded with strong performances in the javelin (second, 161-4) and 800 m (third, 2:11.71) to win the title. Her overall score of 6,494 points was just six points behind her all-time best of 6,500, set last year, and bodes well for her chances in Rio.
She now stands sixth in the world at 6,494, just 132 points out of third position, indicating that she has an outside chance at an Olympic medal. After setting two school records in track at Uni, she graduated from U.C. Santa Barbara in 2012 and now coaches track at Santa Barbara High School.
At age 27, it’s Nwaba’s first Olympic team. Asked about the achievement, she told NBC’s Lewis Johnson, “It means the world.
“I had an awesome day one, but a lot didn’t go my way (at the start of the second day). It was kind of like almost taken away, but I knew I had two strong events coming up. It’s a great feeling.”
Good luck in Rio!