Racing for the shot

SPU track athletes featured in Nikon Z9 promotional video

Isabella Tranello, Sports Editor

Njeri’s Nikon shoot has given him the opportunity to experience an aspect of the professional sports industry. (Courtesy of Rod Mar)

Achieving greatness always unconsciously lives in the back of an athlete’s mind. It may not be the main focus, but it is always there, eating away at them. Pushing the boundaries and being recognized for their work is what drives them to succeed. When an opportunity comes knocking at their door, they do not take it lightly; they make the most of it. 

This was the case for Seattle Pacific University sophomore track athletes David Njeri and Jeff Gordon, who had an amazing opportunity during the summer of 2021. 

The teammates were called to Shoreline, Washington to film an exclusive video for the Seattle Seahawks photographer and Nikon Ambassador Rod Mar. The video would include not only track athletes, but those who play golf, soccer and cycle. The video was made by Mar to promote the Nikon Z9 camera.

At this time, Gordon, who competes in the triple jump, long jump and runs sprints for SPU, was not in Washington and had to sacrifice a small part of his summer to participate. 

“Through [Assistant Athletic/Sports Information Director] Mark, I was put in contact with Rod Mar. I talked to him and he explained to me that the shoot would be taking place at Shoreline Stadium within a week from when we had spoken,” said Gordon. “At this time, I was home in Virginia, so I quickly got my ticket booked and flew over to Washington. I was not going to miss the opportunity.”

All the athletes gathered together at Shoreline Stadium for two days of filming, which Gordon claimed felt just like he and Njeri were back at SPU at track practice. 

Sophomore track athlete David Njeri at Shoreline Stadium for the Nikon Z9 camera. (Courtesy of Rod Mar)

“It was lots of running, we did some warm-ups and then got straight to business. We did some 60m flies and then went onto the curve a couple of times,“ Gordon said. “We had a small break after that, but it wasn’t very long and that surprised me because I hadn’t expected it to be so fast. It honestly felt like a track practice. It was a lot of like, ‘Alright, let’s get it done.’“

Gordon was excited to get back on the track and be involved in this video because he felt like his hard work and training from the previous season in 2020 were beginning to pay off. 

“The fact that someone had been looking for athletes in the area and that my name came up in the conversation showed me that the time I had put into the sport was recognized. I owed it to Mark and Rod to just go out there and put on a show. I wanted to do my very best since I was chosen by them for this opportunity.” Gordon said. 

Fellow SPU track team member Njeri, who competes in the long jump, triple jump and hurdles, was excited to take this opportunity alongside his track teammate. The experience made the outcome that much sweeter for him. 

“I feel like shooting with him was a good moment, especially because he is my teammate and somebody that I have grown with. To be able to have the same opportunity brings me joy. I enjoy knowing that we both have worked hard for this moment and just seeing him was such a good time.” Njeri said. 

This opportunity was their first taste of the professional sports industry and it certainly won’t be the last. Njeri and Gordon both have bright futures at SPU. Each day these athletes continue to push themselves as they develop their skills on the track, and they do not plan to stop anytime soon. 

“This has really sparked some extra motivation for me going into this next track season. Seeing myself in that big arena has shown me that I can push myself more to get to that level in the future,” Njeri said. “It has pushed me to go harder this season. I watch that video about two times each day and it motivates me to be the athlete I want to be. I want to be on that big stage someday.”