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Local Olympic Spotlight: Mount Olive, NJ Native Keturah Orji, Team USA Track & Field

Catarrh Orji (Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)

Catarrh Orji (Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)


Keturah Orji qualified for the United States Track and Field team when she dominated in the U.S. Olympic trials, punching her ticket to Rio with a winning jump of 46-113/4.

The winning mark came on the Mount Olive resident’s fifth jump on six attempts. Orji, who also set the American record earlier this year en route NCAA national title with 47-8, is part of a three woman contingent for the triple jump, which also includes Bronx resident and Morristown graduate, Christina Epps.

Orji is a junior with the Georgia University Bulldogs, and has dominated during her time there. She is the two-time reigning national champion in the triple jump in both indoor and outdoor track and field. She was also named to the first team outdoor All-American two years in a row in the long jump as well.

Despite Orji’s domination of American competition, her medal chances are still rather slim come Rio. Her personal best, the American record she set earlier in the year, is still only the ninth best this year. Catarine Ibarguen of Colombia has the world’s best mark this year, and is poised to get her first gold medal after getting silver in London. The defending gold medalist, Olga Rypakova, also expects to compete again. They join a laundry list of other more experienced jumpers that stand in the way of Orji’s medal hopes.

If an American woman is going to win a triple jump medal, odds are it will be Orji, but the odds are stacked against her. Her personal best is far off from the expected Olympic gold medal mark, even if she exceeds expectations. While she did win the Olympic Trials in poor conditions, so she will be expected to improve greatly in Rio, it would still be a big upset for her to medal. American women have never won a medal in the event since it was opened to women in 1996.

Orji graduated from Mount Olive High School in 2014, and enrolled in Georgia the following year where she is studying financial planning. She set the New Jersey State record for triple jump as a junior, and the Morris County record the same year in the long jump.


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Dan is a Staff Writer here at with a focus on Team USA and the Rio Olympics
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