When Nina Schultz won the heptathlon at the Jim Click Shootout this past April with 6,075 points, she set a new under-20 national record in her native Canada. It was also the third-best heptathlon mark in the world this year. Oh, and it was her first collegiate heptathlon too.
Schultz came to Kansas State because of Cliff Rovelto, and there’s no doubt he has helped Schultz improve in various aspects. But Schultz’s connection with at least the high jump goes back two generations and a world away from New Westminster, Canada.
Her mother, Debra Duan immigrated to Canada in the 1990s and was herself a noted high jump specialist. Schultz’s grandfather, Duan Qiyan, was a former junior champion in the high jump in China, and went on to be a famous national team coach.
But it’s Schultz’s grandmother, Zheng Fengrong, who was the real star. She was the world record holder in high jump way back in 1957 with a mark of 1.77m. That was without the benefit of the Fosbury flop too. Thanks to an Olympic boycott by China that lasted until 1984, Zheng never won a medal, but she did get to carry the Olympic flag at the opening ceremonies in Beijing in 2008.
It was only fitting that Schultz would end up at #HighJumpU then.
Determined to emulate her parent and grandparents, Schultz began training for track and field events at the ripe old age of eight. She would tie a string between two trees and jump over onto a pile of couch pillows. She eventually graduated to the real thing and began to compete in junior combined events. By the time she arrived in Manhattan, Schultz had been a 13-time provincial champion in British Columbia, and currently holds the national under-20, high school, and junior heptathlon records in Canada.
At the NCAA Outdoor Championships in Eugene, Schultz will be part of a loaded field featuring 2016 national champion Kendell Williams (Georgia) and Taliyah Brooks (Arkansas) who has the highest points total of any woman in 2017.