Omo Osaghae and his Texas Tech hurdles coach Dion Miller weren’t sure when they resumed training in December that Osaghae would be ready to compete at a high level this indoor season.
Man, was that a miscalculation.
The former Monterey and Tech standout ran the best races of his life in the last month, capped Sunday when he won gold in the 60-meter hurdles at the IAAF World Championships in Sopot, Poland.
Osaghae ran a world-leading and personal record time of 7.45 seconds to edge two French hurdlers by .01 and .02 seconds, respectively.
Earlier Sunday, Osaghae ran the fastest time in the semifinals — 7.49, which, at the time, was also his personal best.
“It’s a huge stage, world stage. It doesn’t get any bigger,” Osaghae said in a post-race interview with Flotrack.org. “The last indoor meet of the year, so you just want to be able to strip everything down and concentrate on the task at hand. I was able to do it back to back, and it’s a great feeling.”
Osaghae, 25, still lives in Lubbock and has trained with Miller for seven years. Osaghae’s Tech teammate Gil Roberts anchored the gold medal-winning U.S. 1,600-meter relay two years ago at the World Championships in Istanbul, Turkey, but Osaghae is the first Tech track and field athlete to win an individual world title.
“I feel blessed,” he said in a statement released by Tech. “That is the best way to describe it. It’s so hard to put into words, but I’m beyond happy that God put his hand on me and allowed for this tremendous opportunity. Bringing this back to Texas Tech and Lubbock means everything to me. I’m so blessed that Lubbock is my hometown and lucky enough to still call it home.”
Osaghae, in the interview with Flotrack.org, noted that he was injured the entire 2013 outdoor season and looking to rebuild his confidence.
“This was a great boost for that,” he said.
“We just started training in December and didn’t think we’d be ready,” Miller told the A-J. “But it shows the maturity of Omo. He believes in the system, and the system’s worked well for him.”
Osaghae was the only American to reach the finals in the 60-meter hurdles. Pascal Martinot-Lagarde took the silver in 7.46, and Garfield Darien got the bronze in 7.47.
Other big names in the U.S. hurdling fraternity tweeted acknowledgements. Among them was outdoor world champion and Olympic silver medalist Jason Richardson, a Texan from Cedar Hill.
“GOLD rush in the mens 60H,” Richardson posted. “Congrats to Omo Osaghae, hurdle dominance is in good hands with America ... or Allstate.”
Ryan Wilson, the 2013 World Championships runner-up, chimed in: “Omo Osaghae holdin it down @usatf hurdles. Congrats to a good guy foremost.”
Miller, who was with Osaghae two weeks ago at the U.S. championships in Albuquerque, did not go to Poland. But the two were communicating long distance.
Just like in Albuquerque, Osaghae had the slowest reaction time in the blocks of the eight runners — .174 second — but he made up for it in a hurry.
“Going to the final, I told him, ‘You’ve got to be focused and put together a really good performance and run through the line,’ ” Miller said. “He had a better start in the final. He was actually ahead off the third hurdle. Then the French kid kind of gained on him a little bit, and he was able to edge him at the line.”
Osaghae’s performances Sunday continued a steller winter. Two weeks ago, he won the U.S. championship for the second year in a row and third time in four years with a time of 7.56.
That makes four gold medals in national or world championships for a guy who, despite being ranked at or near the top, never won an NCAA title in college.
“They say it takes about 10,000 hours for someone to become good at what they do in this sport,” Miller said. “He’s been doing it at a high level for about seven years now. I just think the timeline is actually happening for him. He’s beginning to get a feel for the sport and actually the event.
“I just think he’s matured as an athlete and a person as well. He’s always been a class act, and it’s all coming together for him. He’s gotten over that hump of getting it done when it counts.”
Also on Sunday, former Tech all-American Tori Polk finished fifth in the women’s long jump with a mark of 21 feet, 81/4 inches. Polk was the only U.S. woman to make the finals in the event.
Like Osaghae, the 30-year-old Polk continues to get better as she gets older. She won the U.S. title two weeks ago. In 2013, she was runner-up at the U.S. outdoor in Des Moines, Iowa, and eighth at the World Championships in Moscow.
“Every championship thus far, I’m moving up the ladder,” Polk said in a statement released by Tech. “I am pleased with today. I would’ve loved to do better, but I can’t complain. I’m improving every day and to have a good indoor season, which I haven’t done indoors in six or seven years, it meant so much to make this team and have this opportunity.”
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