Tobi Amusan: Nigeria’s Golden Star Athlete

In Eugene, Oregon, Nigeria’s Golden Girl, Tobi Amusan, depsite the odds stacked against her, clinched the gold medal in the final of the women’s 100m hurdles event at the World Athletics Championships having crossed the finish line at 12.06s. In achieving this feat, the current Commonwealth Champion also smashed the existing World Record in the process. Prior to the win, she had also won at the semi finals with a record breaking 12.12s. Chiemelie Ezeobi reports that for the first time ever, the Nigerian Anthem was played at the World Athletics Championships and it was such a goose bump-worthy moment that elicited hope for a nation that has been battered on all fronts by heightened insecurity economic woes, inflation and nepotism 

Without a doubt, the unprecedented sterling records broken by Nigeria’s own Tobiloba Amusan at the World Athletics Championships in Eugene, Oregon, were products of her faith, hard work and consistency in her chosen field of sports. 

First at the semi finals, Amusan not just finished first, but in a record breaking time of 12.12s. She sped like the wind as she clocked to the finish line to the amazement of all, including the commentator whose buzz word at her win was “How dare we not believe she could do it”. Amusan had produced a jaw-dropping world record in the semi-finals, smashing the previous best mark of 12.20secs held by Keni Harrison of the United States in 2016.

At the finals, she didn’t relent, rather she cemented her win but even in a lesser time. Amusan finished in a time of 12.06s, 0.08s better than the 12.12s she got in the semi-finals. With her win, Jamaica’s Britany Anderson was in second place, while current Olympic Champion, Jasmine Camacho-Quinn of Cuba placed third.

Goose-bump Moment for Nigeria’s National Anthem 

For her feats, she was awarded a lump sum of 100,000 dollars but that paled in the face of the National Anthem, which was played for the first time ever at the World Athletics Championships. 

Amusan was reduced to tears as the Nigerian National Anthem was rendered. As she sang along, every word of the Anthem made more sense to her. The nuances she exhibited when the part of “The labour of our heroes past, shall never be in vain” and “One nation bound in freedom, Peace and Unity”, was rendered resounded not just for her, but for weary Nigerians who had before her win been buffeted on all sides by terrible news emanating from practically all regions of the nation.

Thus her win was like a streak of silver lining tinged with hope for so many Nigerians who were on the verge of losing hope in this nation. History will record that in that singular moment when the National Anthem was rendered, Nigerians were united with one common purpose- quest for a Nigeria of our dreams. 

Thorny Times

But the track and field had not always been rosy for Amusan. She has had a mixture of joys and near misses since she chose this field career.

Three years ago, at the World Championships in Doha, Qatar, she placed fourth position in the final, which was crushing because prior to that, she had broken the African Games record twice in 2019 in Rabat, Morocco. She ran 12.69 seconds to win her semifinal heat before running a hundredth of a second faster in the final to win the gold.

Also in Tokyo in 2021, at the Olympic Games, finishing outside the podium again in fourth place, which was another defining moment for the Nigerian hurdler. Taking these successes mixed with the disappointments in her stride, she worked on her game and a year later, she ran her way into our hearts and the world.

Achievements So Far

At the World Championship, Amusan became the second Nigerian sprint hurdler to win a medal after Glory Alozie, who won a silver medal in Seville, Spain in 1999.

Amusan is the first Nigerian to bag a Diamond League trophy in September 2021 when she set an African Record and Personal Best of 12.42secs in Zurich. Also in the African Record for Diamond League, she broke the  record after clocking 12.41 seconds in the 100m women’s hurdle in June 2022.

In Paris, France, she also broke her own record with her third-best run of the season at the Diamond League meet. In fact, when she blazed to victory with a time 12.41secs, that moved her up to third in the world in 2022 behind World Leader, Jasmine Camacho-Quinn and Alaysha Johnson.

In the African Athletics Championships, Amusan became  the fifth woman to successfully retain gold at the 100m hurdles event after claiming gold at the African Athletics Championships in Mauritius in June given that she first won the title in 2018 at the 21st edition of the competition and is now the third Nigerian to successfully defend the sprint hurdles title.

In August 2021, Amusan broke Nigeria’s 21-year-old record having won her first semi-final in 12.62s to become the first Nigerian since Glory Alozie at Sydney 2000 to qualify for the 100m Hurdles final at the Olympics.

Affirmations Turned Manifestation 

Meanwhile, one outstanding thing that has stood out thus far in her win has been her faith and trust in her career. In one of her many affirmations to herself, she had on November 8, 2016,  posted on Twitter, “Unknown now, but ? I will be UNFORGETTABLE … I will Persist until I SUCCEED ….”

Many years down the line, those words of affirmations are manifesting and we are certainly here to cheer her on. Cheers to more wins Tobiloba Amusan, we celebrate you and what your win means to millions of young girls around in the world and even in your community. 

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