Canadas track and field team has a world class long jumper in Chibudu

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In the time it took for Brian Chibudu to fill out an online form, Canada acquired a world class long jumper.
The 20-year-old Florida State sophomore, who boasts the best jump in the NCAA this season, was born in Ottawa but grew up in Harare, Zimbabwe. He's always held a Canadian passport and he registered with Athletics Canada last week, giving the Canadian track and field program its first world-class athlete in his event in nearly two decades.
''I'm quite excited, it's always been my dream to compete for Canada,'' Chibudu said from his home in Tallahassee, Fla. ''I can't wait to wear those colours.''
The six-foot-four Chibudu soared 8.05 metres at a meet earlier this month at Florida State, ranking the Seminoles jumper No. 1 in the NCAA and 13th in the world. The distance was nearly a metre longer than any other Canadian has jumped this year.
''We haven't had a Canadian jump over eight metres in a long time,'' said Carla Nicholls, jumps coach for Athletics Canada. ''Identifying Brian was kind of a gift from God, to find out he was Canadian and wanted to compete for Canada is exciting for us.
''Brian coming in, it's going to be a shock to some of the other long jumpers . . . 'Who the heck is this guy?' But at the same time, it's going to be good, we need to be jumping longer than we are, it's only going to create a positive atmosphere for the jumpers.''
Chibudu lived with his parents - dad Freedom and mom Chinaniso - in Ottawa until he was three, when the family moved back to Zimbabwe. Because Zimbabwe doesn't permit dual citizenship, he's always been solely Canadian, but didn't compete at any Canadian trial events because his parents couldn't afford the travel costs.
Florida State assistant coach Ken Harnden, a former Zimbabwean Olympian, spotted Chibudu as a high schooler when he leapt a Zimbabwe junior record of 7.91.
Chibudu, who also played volleyball, field hockey and cricket in high school, tore ligaments in his knee shortly after arriving in Florida and was forced to red-shirt his freshman season. Last year, he focused mainly on running while his knee healed and was a member of FSU's 4x100-metre relay team.
He's been making headlines for his jumping this season, and will make his Canadian debut at the Canadian track and field championships June 25-28 at Toronto's revamped Varsity Stadium.
Chibudu's FSU coaches believe the Canadian record - 8.20 set by Edrick Floreal in 1991 - is within reach, and believe he can jump as far as 8.30, which would put him among the best in the world.
''Every time he goes out he's jumping farther and farther,'' Nicholls said.
The young jumper has his immediate sights set on competing for Canada at the world championships in Berlin in August. To qualify under Athletics Canada's ''rising star'' criteria, he needs to jump 8.05 twice, plus win the Canadian championships. No other Canadian has jumped further than 7.35 this season.

Organizations: Athletics Canada, NCAA

Geographic location: Canada, Florida, Zimbabwe Ottawa Harare Tallahassee, Fla. Toronto Varsity Stadium Berlin

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