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Najuma Fletcher and Nicola Martial have travelled far since their days as aspiring young female athletes in Guyana, South America. Today both are looking forward to graduating — Fletcher with a B.S. degree in engineering from the University of Pittsburgh and Martial with a B.A. degree in political science from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln And both look forward to the summer Olympic games in Atlanta.

If Fletcher makes Guayana’s Olympic team, it will be her second trip to the games. The two-time Big East Conference indoor and outdoor track and field performer represented Guyana in the 1992 games.

“The first time I went to the Olympics it was a great experience,” says Fletcher, who finished first in the high jump at the 1996 NCAA Indoor Championship.

“I was able to hobnob with Olympic-caliber people and watch them as they trained and prepared for each meet. Being there helped me prepare for national championships,” says Fletcher.

But when the rush and the glory of competing in the summer Olympics simmers and the medals are tucked away, Fletcher expects to be back in the classroom working on a two-year graduate degree in mechanical engineering at the University of Pittsburgh.

Fletcher says the idea of turning pro was an idea she wrestled with, but decided to forego. “The commitment,” she said, “would take more work than I’m presently giving to it now. Luckily I’ll still be in Pittsburgh with my coach. I’ll keep training and will probably compete some time.”

Nebraska’s Martial also expects to represent Guyana in the summer games. She recently placed first in the triple jump at the NCAA meet. Like, Fletcher, Martial plans to turn her attention back to the books.

The two-time All-American and four-time Big Eight champion plans to attend law school in the fall.

“Track is just a way to get me to my goal to be a corporate attorney,” Martial says. Martial said she was excited to go to her first Olympic competition and is looking forward to “all those days to watch Olympians train and compete.”

COPYRIGHT 1996 Cox, Matthews & Associates
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