Chidi Okezie the Newest Triple Threat
By Raymond Womack
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Roll out the red carpet. Let rap artist Kanye West’s “Flashing Lights” and rap artist Drake’s “Fireworks” play through the speakers. Next to make his grand entrance is the New Media Technology Charter School’s outstanding sprinter, Chidi Okezie.
In the past few years, the 6 foot-5 inch, American born Nigerian-Jamaican sprinter has been making his mark in and around the Philadelphia Public League. Carrying the torch passed down from many great sprinters before him, Okezie has become the latest triple threat Public League sprinter. Known for his quarter mile prowess, the Hampton-bound Senior was the victor in the 100, 200 and 400 meter dashes at the 2011 installment of the Philadelphia Public League Championships. Such a feat is rare in the league commonly referred to as the “Pub” as most sprinters in the league do not like to run the 1 lap race. However, according to Okezie and his coach Pascal Marcelin, the 400 meter is his favorite and best event.
“I always thought Chidi would be a great 400 meter runner” Marcelin said. “As his foot speed got better, it seemed like the 200, 400 would be the best combination of events for him. Right now, I think he’s shaping up to be a great quarter-miler.”
As a freshman, Okezie did not turn many heads as a runner. Coach Marcelin recalls the New Media Technology Charter School athlete’s freshman campaign.
“He was very tall, but not very competitive early on, so he didn’t run in any major relays or even championships. In the beginning, I would have to point out great runners with similar physical characteristics to build his confidence.”
Confidence is obviously not a problem these days. A usually quiet Okezie can be found pre-race in his warm ups and headphones covering his ears with music from some of his favorite rap artists along with a look on his face that shouts he came to win.
“I bring my “A” game to every meet” Okezie explained.
The standout sprinter boasts personal bests of 11.08 seconds in the 100 meter dash, 21.92 seconds in the 200 meter dash, 42.17 seconds in the 300 meter intermediate hurdles and 48.95 seconds in the 400 meter dash.
“I did the 100 meter for speed work and my coach liked my time so he wanted me to keep running it.”
Usually, the taller athletes have trouble executing the short sprint.
“My height only messes with coming out of the blocks in the 100 meter.”
Still, Okezie manages to get out well enough to allow his closing strength to propel him to victory. Coach Marcelin sees enormous potential in his student-athlete.
“I’ve had some athlete’s who may have had more talent in the past, but Chidi is by far the hardest working athlete that I’ve coached. His love for track & field and work ethic is unmatched. He’s [only] missed two practices in four years.”
Okezie has set his GPS for a road trip to Oregon in the near future with a stop in Virginia.
“I’m going to Hampton [University, for college] and I want to run for [the] USA [team]” says Okezie.
A more immediate stop is Shippensburg University for the 2011 P.I.A.A. State Championships, where it is widely believed that Okezie could do very well.
“This year, rounds are going to be tough, but I think Chidi has the potential to come home as a state champion. If he stays injury-free, focused, and runs his race, I expect that he will come home with some hardware” says Marcelin.
Okezie draws on his tenth-grade experience where he missed a trip to the State Championships by two-one hundredths of a second.
“I just had to go harder the next few years” says Okezie.
If he goes hard enough at the District Twelve Championships this week, there may be “Flashing Lights” and “Fireworks” awaiting him at Shippensburg.