Long Jump sensation Elizabeth Ndudi goes into this week’s European U20 Championships in Jerusalem, Israel as one of Ireland’s leading medal contenders.
The 18-year-old holds the national U20 record in the event, with a 6.44m personal best to her name from earlier this season and will embark on a prestigious US collegiate scholarship later this month.
Exciting times ahead.
Before that however she is fully intent on mounting the podium in Jerusalem early on Thursday morning. Having placed seventh at last year’s European U18 Championships in the same city, Ndudi is undoubtedly hungry for more.
“My goal would be to get on the podium and hopefully win,” she says without hesitation.
Ndudi has progressed significantly in the last number of years under the watchful eye of coach Julien Guilard at Racing Club Nantes in France.
Growing up she started out in athletics at the age of eight with Dundrum South Dublin trying a variety of events, something which she continues to this day as she also competes over both the 100m and 200m.
She attended St. Attracta’s in Dundrum for her primary education before moving to the French city at the age of eleven.
Ndudi’s mother is half-Irish, half-Dutch, while her father is Nigerian, however there was no doubt in her mind when it came to her aspirations of representing Ireland.
She has great friendships within the Irish team something which has developed at international events and on warm weather training camps.
“They’re (Irish teammates) very supportive. When I’m doing the Long Jump, they’re always clapping for me when I jump and when I ask for the claps. I’m always very excited to see them.”
Ndudi, who mentions the likes of Jazmin Sawyers and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce as well as Rhasidat Adeleke as inspirations, dreams of making the Olympics in Paris next year.
“I’ve talked about it with my coach. He thinks it’s a very ambitious goal, but I like being ambitious,” she says.
“Seeing the progression that I’ve made this year and last year, I’m hoping that if that continues, I could jump something big enough, maybe around 6.60m, at the end of the summer.
“I think having a whole year to progress I could eventually get that Olympic standard.”
Elizabeth Ndudi on Illinois move
With that goal in mind, her school days over and the thoughts of developing into a world class jumper firmly in focus Ndudi will begin her prestigious scholarship at the University of Illinois in just a few weeks’ time.
She is optimistic about what lies ahead.
“Having more time to focus on athletics is something that will definitely help me. I’ll be in the right conditions to progress.”
In Illinois she will link up with coach Petros Kyprianou someone who she says she has only heard “great things” about.
“When I spoke to him, he was saying to me that if my goal is to go to the Olympics that was his goal too.
“I liked that we are both ambitious in that way,” she adds.
With the Irish senior record standing at 6.60m, expect the talented teenager, who certainly doesn’t lack confidence, to challenge that mark sooner rather than later.