Shola Nurudeen may be a little more excited than most about Monday’s broadcast of the 2008 Olympic Games.
That’s because her son, Selim Nurudeen, will be competing for her home country of Nigeria in the preliminary heats of the 110-meter high hurdles.
A lecturer in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Houston Cullen College of Engineering, Shola Nurudeen admits the weeks leading up to the competition have been a bit nerve racking. Even more so, she said, as she watches other Olympic events unfold.
“It’s scary, you want to see him do well, but the competition is great,” she said of her son, who is making his Olympic debut. “These kids put so much time into it. I’m so impressed with them, with him. We just want to see him do his best. Go as fast as possible, and we just hope he can get a spot in the finals. At least get a chance to compete.”
The commencement of courses at UH coupled with the short time between her son’s qualifying win at Nigeria’s Olympic Trials and the start of the Olympics in China made it impossible for Shola Nurudeen and her family to find their way to Beijing.
Through regular e-mails and chats on the phone, the UH lecturer, her husband and her son’s three siblings have shared their support for the Olympian. “We communicate often and let him know we are rooting for him and it’s going to be alright,” she said.
Their support is helping him deal with an irritating stress fracture he sustained to his foot, which kept him from practicing for a portion of the track and field season. “He says everything is working fine, his foot just hurts,” she said. ”I tell him to hang in there.”
The 25-year-old Arizona State University graduate student will have to put any pain behind him Monday as he competes with the world’s best in heats for the 110-meter high hurdles. The outcome of Monday’s race will determine if Selim Nurudeen, the lone entrant in the event for Nigeria, moves on to Tuesday’s quarterfinals.
A top performance Tuesday and in Wednesday’s semifinals could earn him a place in the finals at Beijing National Stadium and a chance at gold Thursday. NBC is scheduled to broadcast Thursday’s finals for the 110-meter hurdles, along with other track and field events, beginning at 8 p.m.
Selim Nurudeen graduated from the University of Notre Dame with his bachelor’s degree in 2005, where he was a seven-time Big East Champion, a four-time champion in the 110-meter high hurdles and two-time champ in the 60-meter hurdles.
In 2005 he earned two All-America honors by placing in the 110-meter high hurdles and the 60-meter hurdles at both the NCAA indoor and outdoor track and field championships. Since graduating from Notre Dame, his mother said he has been competing in track and field events for Nigeria.