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Mt. SAC Twins Enjoy Life in the Fast Lane : Track: Nigeria's Davidson and Osmond Enzinwa among premier sprinters in the world.

May 10, 1990|MITCH POLIN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

It wasn't a major recruiting effort by Coach Don Ruh that won identical twin sprinters Davidson and Osmond Enzinwa of Nigeria over to Mt. San Antonio College.

But sometimes good connections work even better.

Until late last year, the Enzinwas had never heard of Mt. SAC --or any other community college in California.

The pair first learned about Mt. SAC through a friend, Victor Nwankwo, who is also a sprinter from Nigeria. Nwankwo enrolled at Mt. SAC in November after his brother--former Azusa Pacific University sprint standout Patrick Nwankwo--became an assistant coach there.

"My first time I heard about Mt. San Antonio College was when I got a letter from Victor (in December) and he said he was going to Mt. SAC," Davidson said. "Before that I had never heard of it."

Even then, the Enzinwas didn't think of attending Mt. SAC until they competed with Nwankwo on the Nigerian team at the British Commonwealth Games in February at Auckland, New Zealand.

Once they made the decision to attend Mt. SAC, gaining entrance proved to be no easy task. There was paper work and countless details to sift through.

"Victor told us they wanted to come here, and we told him it wasn't going to be an easy thing to do and there was a lot of paper work to clear up," Ruh said. "While they were in New Zealand, we talked on the phone a lot, but we finally worked it out.

"It was a situation where we didn't actually recruit them. It just kind of happened. It was more our good fortune."

Good fortune or not, Ruh is happy to have the 18-year-old brothers on the squad.

The 6-foot-2, 188-pound Davidson is already regarded as one of the premier sprinters in the world. He established a world junior record of 10.05 seconds in the 100-meter dash at the Nigerian trials for the British Commonwealth Games in January and equaled the time in a wind-aided effort at the games.

He also won the 100-meter invitational in 10.20 seconds at the Mt. SAC Relays in April, defeating a world-class field that included Raymond Stewart of Jamaica. He has also run the 200 meters in 20 seconds.

Osmond, 6-2 and 186, has produced slightly slower times of 10.22 seconds in the 100 meters and 20.6 in the 200 this season.

Understandably, the two are usually together off the track.

"They're very, very close," Ruh said. "They still wear the same clothes on the same day and they're almost always together."

They are also very easy to coach, Ruh said.

"They're super kids," he said. "They are just so positive about everything and there's always a smile on their faces. They know where they want to go and what they have to do to get there."

"They have tremendous potential," Ruh said. "Obviously, right now they're already world ranked. But they don't want to rush their progress. If they don't, they have a great future. Their size and their strength and mental outlook is such that they have the quality of world-class athletes."

The accomplishments of the twins are even more impressive considering that they didn't compete in track on a full-time basis until 1987.

As youths, growing up in the town of Nsukka, they concentrated on playing soccer--the most popular sport in Nigeria.

"The play was always very rough," Davidson said. "We had some rough players back home and everyone gets injured. So we decided to quit and try track."

When they started competing in track, Osmond said, it was in local meets.

"Before 1987, when we ran it was just for fun," he said. "We didn't really take it seriously until then. But I think it was in our family, because when our mother was in school she was a good sprinter too."

It did not take either of them long to develop. Not much longer than a year after he started competing on a regular basis, Davidson was running a leg on the Nigerian 400-meter relay team at the 1988 Summer Olympics. The team advanced to the semifinals.

Since then, Davidson has improved consistently although he doesn't think he has approached his potential.

"I think I can still improve on my time, because since I've been running I don't think I've run my fastest race," he said. "If I can improve my start and my first 50 meters, I think I can improve my time. I have to work on my start because my start is very poor."

Osmond's development was slowed at first by a hamstring pull.

"In 1988 I didn't run at all because of my hamstring and in 1989 I was just picking up," he said. "Last year was the first time I competed in international meets. Last year I competed in the Commonwealth Games and the World Cup for the first time. Since I started training last year I've been moving up, and I think with more hard training I'll make it."

All along, the twins said they were wanted to attend college in the United States. They said they initially wanted to attended Azusa Pacific, which has already attracted numerous Nigerian track standouts, including sprinter Innocent Egbunike and weight throwers Ade Olukoju and Christian Okoye.

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