Ndudi targeting a podium place at European U20 Championships

At just 18 national long jump champion is already fourth on the Irish all-time list and will begin her US collegiate career at the University of Illinois later this month

It is no surprise whatsoever that Elizabeth Ndudi references Rhasidat Adeleke as an inspiration, both in terms of where her own athletics career is at and where she hopes it will go.

Still only 18, Ndudi has already won Irish senior titles in the long jump this year, indoors first and more recently outdoors, and this week is looking to make her mark at the European Under-20 Championships, currently underway at the Givat Ram Stadium in Jerusalem.

It was at these same championships in Tallinn, two years ago, when Adeleke further marked her potential, winning a brilliant 100m-200m sprint double, also at age 18. Ndudi is ranked sixth best of the long jumpers in Jerusalem, getting through Tuesday’s qualification round the least of her ambitions.

“To get a place on the podium, that’s certainly my goal,” says Ndudi, who improved her lifetime best to 6.44m in Mannheim in June and is now fourth on the Irish all-time list. “I’ve broken my best twice this season, and I think [I’m] improving on my technique as well.


“And of course Rhasidat is an inspiration, the fact she’s so good across the sprint events, and to see what she’s doing, already at the top of the world performances.”

Like Adeleke, Ndudi was born in Dublin, her mother of Irish-Dutch parentage and her father from Nigeria. She started athletics while at primary school at St Attracta’s in Dundrum, also joining up with Dundrum-South Athletic Club, before the family moved to Nantes in France in 2016, when Ndudi was aged 11.

Her school days in Nantes now complete, Ndudi will also follow Adeleke into the US collegiate system, starting later this month at the University of Illinois, the head coach there, Petros Kyprianou, known for his expertise in the long jump.

“He’s coached lots of jumpers who have participated in the Olympics, I’ve only heard great things about him, and when I spoke to him, and I said my goal was to make the Olympics, he said that would be his goal too.”

Ndudi is also mixing things up with the sprint events too, also running lifetime bests in the 100m (11.83) and the 200m (24.43) this year: “For me it works pretty well, because to be a good long jumper, you need to have good sprinting technique as well. And I think the speed of the 200m corresponds better to my long jump.

“Growing up I was always a sprinter first, so I think it works well for me, to keep sprint training, and the long jump. It’s not easy, but if I’m able to continue in both events, I’d like too. It’s something that just happened, the push came from myself really.

“And of course I would love to make the Paris Olympics, it’s a very ambitious goal, but I like to be ambitious so it’s definitely something I’m going to work towards.”

The hot conditions in Jerusalem will be welcomed by the sprinters and the jumpers, though not so much by the distance runners. Still Nick Griggs made light work of qualifying for the 3,000m final on Monday, easing home second in his heat in 8:32.22, right alongside Andreas Fjeld Halvorson from Norway (8:32.20).

Griggs was just 16 when he won this 3,000m title in 2021 and, though a marked runner two years on, looks like the one to beat, especially after rising Dutch star Niels Laros decided to focus on other events, starting with the 1,500m

After setting Irish under-20 records in four events this year – 1,500m (3:36.09), mile (3:55.73), 3,000m (7:53.24) and 5,000m (13:36.47) – Griggs will fancy his medal chances no matter how the race is run. The final is set for 5.35pm on Wednesday (Irish time).

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan is an Irish Times sports journalist writing on athletics