The Florida International University (FIU) Panthers got a huge boost to their athletics program, reeling in one of the finest junior female throwers in the region.
After racking up CARIFTA gold in back-to-back years of 2018 and 2019, solidifying her position as one of the best junior female throwers in the region, Rhema Otabor is now preparing for the next stage of her career. She has committed to FIU for the fall semester, instantly adding quality to the Panthers’ attack.
FIU women are coming off a 10th place finish at the 2020 Conference USA Indoor Track and Field Championships in Birmingham, Alabama. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I Championships and the outdoor season were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The school, which is located in Miami, Florida, is not known for athletics. The school has never won a conference title in athletics and the program has produced just four Olympians.
Otabor, who is highly ranked in the region and around the globe in the under-18 girls javelin, is expected to provide a huge lift to the program. She said she’s excited to begin her collegiate career.
“I’m very happy with the decision and I plan on doing great things there. They really made me feel welcomed and comfortable and I felt like it was an ideal fit for me,” said Otabor. “I like the energy of the team. I like the fact that it is a smaller school compared to others and the team is kind of a young one and we could grow together. I would have the opportunity to grow more in the sport alongside people I consider peers. Their javelin program has produced positive results before so I’m just trusting the process and trusting the program. I’m pretty excited to be competing on the collegiate level and I look forward to the experience and opportunities that I will gain. Two goals that I have would be to break the school record and compete at the NCAA Outdoors. I’ll be looking to achieve those things.”
Otabor, 17, struck gold in the under-18 girls javelin at the CARIFTA Games in Nassau, The Bahamas, in 2018, with a toss of 44.21 meters (m) – 145’. The following year, she had a toss of 43.07m (141’ 3”), now using the 600-gram device in the under-20 girls division as opposed to the 500-gram javelin in the under-18 division. Once again, she won gold.
Otabor was on pace to really take off in that event this year, turning in a massive personal best throw of 47.95m (157’ 4”) at the T-Bird Flyers Track and Field Classic in early January. It was her first meet of the year, and easily qualified her for the CARIFTA Games which were scheduled for the Easter holiday weekend in Hamilton, Bermuda. With that event being canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Otabor was denied an opportunity to win a third consecutive gold medal at the CARIFTA level. However, with her 18th birthday not until December, she is still eligible for the 2021 CARIFTA Games, and her personal best effort is just shy of the CARIFTA record which is held by Candesha Scott of Grenada.
“I was completely unhappy because I was looking forward to CARIFTA this year. I was working really hard in practice for a shot at winning it again and even possibly getting the record for the under-20 girls javelin. For me, CARIFTA was when I always did my best for the whole season. I guess it was because of more competition, but I had plans for throwing a personal best once again. Hopefully everything goes better next year,” said Otabor.
Otabor’s massive throw in January has her listed at number 30 in the world in the under-20 girls division on the World Athletics (WA) website. She is the seventh-youngest on the list and is only about two and a half meters short of qualifying for the 2020 WA World Under-20 Championships which has now been postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. That event was originally scheduled for July 7 to 12 in Nairobi, Kenya.
Otabor attended Nassau Christian Academy (NCA) here in Nassau and trains locally with Coach Corrington Maycock and Blue Chip Athletics.