Ashley Anumba, a third-year student at the University of Virginia School of Law, will represent Nigeria at the Summer Olympics in Paris.

Ashley Anumba
Anumba is a dual citizen of Nigeria and the U.S. Photos by Julia Davis

Anumba competed on the Cavaliers track and field team from 2021-23, setting a Virginia discus record with her first throw of the season in spring 2023. She has topped the UVA record four times since, most recently with a personal best of 59.37 meters at North Carolina State’s Raleigh Relays in 2023. Her best overall throw was at the Nigerian Championships in July 2023, with 61.98 meters.

Anumba expressed her joy at progressing to the Olympics on Instagram on July 7, after placing first at the African Athletics Championships on June 21 with a 59.30-meter throw.

“If anyone knows the [sacrifices] that I have made this season and throughout my athletics career, they will know that God is real,” she wrote in her post. “This journey of mine has not been straightforward, but I am exactly where I need to be. The job is not finished, but man am I proud of myself.”

In 2022, Anumba was named a second-team All-American, and earned All-ACC honors in discus and shot put. She was also named to the 2022-23 ACC Honor Roll. She completed her NCAA eligibility last year and took a year off from law school to train for the Olympics in 2023-24.

Because Anumba is a dual citizen, the California native, born to immigrant parents, was given the opportunity to declare her national sports affiliation while attending the University of Pennsylvania. Vying for the 2020 Tokyo games before choosing law school, she said she chose Nigeria because of her ancestry and the competitiveness of making the U.S. team.

UVA Law students
The Law School community cheered Anumba on at a track and field meet in 2023.

“Even though I’m a little nervous about how all this will go, I know it will benefit me,” she said in 2021 of juggling law school and track. “In undergrad, I don’t know how successful I would have been if I didn’t have sports. Participating in athletics kept me focused and forced me to manage my time well.”

Her Corporations teacher, Professor Edmund Kitch, and his wife, Gail Kitch, became friends with Anumba and attended some of her UVA meets.

"In the course of interacting with her, I learned that she is able to identify a goal and work toward it in a systematic and thoughtful way,” Kitch said. Achieving her dream of competing in the Olympics “is predictive of many more successes to come.”

In 2019 at Penn, Anumba was ranked No. 4 in the world for discus in the under-20 division and has been that university’s distance record-holder since 2018. It was as a sophomore that Anumba began participating with the Nigerian national team as well. She graduated from Penn with a bachelor’s degree in health and societies.

Additionally, alumnus Matt Simpson ’20 will be competing in his third Paralympics in Paris. He earned silver with the U.S. goalball team in 2016 and his team finished fourth in the 2020 games.            

Founded in 1819, the University of Virginia School of Law is the second-oldest continuously operating law school in the nation. Consistently ranked among the top law schools, Virginia is a world-renowned training ground for distinguished lawyers and public servants, instilling in them a commitment to leadership, integrity and community service.

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