AZUSA, Calif. – Under sunny skies with warm temperatures, NAIA great Ruky Abdulai broke the Canadian national record in the women’s long jump to cap an impressive competition and highlight the 2nd Annual Azusa Pacific Invitational, Friday afternoon.
A senior at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, Abdulai put together a 4-jump series in which she leaped over 21’ 3” each time, but it was her second attempt that sent the crowd abuzz when she jumped a legal 22’ 0¾” (6.72m) to break Nicole Devonish’s 1996 national record of 21’ 10¼” that was also set on U.S. soil in Lubbock, Texas. While Abdulai, a Ghana native who gained her Canadian citizenship this past January, automatically qualifies for the Canadian Olympic Trials later this summer, a more impressive note on her performance today is that she also broke the Cougar Stadium record of 21’ 10¼” set 18 years ago by arguably the greatest American long jumper – Jackie Joyner-Kersee.
Abdulai beat Nolle Graham (21’ 6”) and Florida’s Shara Proctor (21’ 4¾”) in an outstanding display of competition.
Abdulai’s performance came moments after Jamaican Kaliese Spencer had already put the crowd on its feet with another stadium record and the fastest 400 meters by a woman in the world this year. A former world junior champion in the 400 hurdles, Spencer ripped off a personal-best 50.55 to shatter former Azusa Pacific great and Olympian Fatimat Yusuf’s stadium standard of 51.57 set in 1996.
In yet another stadium record to go down, Shanie Marks closed the 10-hour meet by winning the triple jump with a leap of 46’ 6”, breaking the former stadium record by more than 4 feet.
Meet host Azusa Pacific University got several NAIA Championship Meet-qualifying performances throughout the meet. Freshman Mandy Ross clocked season bests in both the 100- (12.19) and 200-meters (24.63) to move into the program’s all-time top 5 in both events.
Fellow freshman Victoria Martinez punched her ticket for the NAIAs with a personal-best 4:43.56 in the 1500 meters.
The Cougar men shined in the field events where sophomore Staphon Arnold regained his form in the high jump with a season-best effort of 6’ 8¾” to finish fourth in the open competition. Meanwhile, sophomore Monti Sutton went a season-best 48’ 6¾” in the triple jump.
The Cougars now turn their attention toward the Golden State Athletic Conference championship meet which Azusa Pacific will host Friday and Saturday, April 25 and 26.