Tobi Amusan at World Athletics Championships: good news for Nigeria

The spirit of bleakness which had enveloped our dear country in recent times was lifted somewhat two weeks ago when Tobi Amusan set not one but TWO new world records in the women’s 100metres hurdles at the 2022 World Athletics Championship held in Oregon, USA.

She set the first record in the semi-finals, finishing the race in 12.12 seconds; only to break that record and set a new one in the finals when she finished in an incredible 12.06 seconds, bringing home the gold. But for Amusan, Nigeria would have returned home from the competitions with nothing to show.

Amusan won us the gold and allowed us to return home in glory, our heads high that our own had won. These are not the only achievements attributed to our prodigy. She is the first Nigerian athlete to win a Diamond League Trophy; this was in 2021.

She was a Silver Medalist at the 2013 African Youth Championship in Warri. In 2014, she won silver at the African Youth Games in Botswana and gold a year later in Ethiopia at the Under-20 Championships. She had a breakthrough victory at the All-Africa Games in Brazzaville, Congo and in 2016 was awarded a scholarship to the University of Texas at El-Paso.

Tobi Amusan’s feat is a refreshing piece of good news for Nigerians in these bleak times. It is heartwarming, in a country bedeviled by insecurity, poverty and every bad thing in between, to have something to celebrate.

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And not only is her achievement worth celebrating but her life as well, which is a story of grit, hard work and determination – a true inspiration. Tobi, a remarkable young woman from Ijebu Ode was not born with a silver spoon in her mouth.

Her parents were both teachers who took education seriously. Her father, in particular, was skeptical of her involvement in sports, fearing that it may lead her nowhere. But Tobi’s heart was in sports and was not to be deterred. With her mother’s encouragement, Tobi fought her way to where she is today. Her journey to success was not without its disappointments.

She consistently came fourth in her races, the winners’ podium eluding her grasp; but she never lost faith in herself. Indeed, in 2016 she wrote in a post: “Unknown now, but soon I will be UNFORGETTABLE … I will persist until I SUCCEED …” and, just the night before her record shattering performances, she wrote “Incoming record holder”.

Tobi’s attitude is an example of what a strong belief in oneself and one’s abilities can do in a person’s life. Despite her failure to win in previous races, she never accepted defeat. She continued to believe in herself and she continued to push hard. Her tenacity is remarkable. The result is her smashing success at the Championship. This is indeed the spirit of true champions!

In an interview, Amusan disclosed that her career really took off after she got the scholarship in Texas. This is the story of many a Nigerian athlete, getting better opportunities and training abroad. This is unfortunate. The Nigerian Sports Ministry needs to step up to its responsibilities.

Nigerian youths have proved time and again that they have everything it takes to succeed if only their country was willing to give them a chance and the necessary support. It is disheartening that a beacon like Amusan will be allowed to feel that another country gave her a better chance than her own.

This is a big shame on the Sports Ministry and on the Nigerian government. So many promising young sportsmen and women are out there fighting hard on our dilapidated sports fields and stadia, needing only the smallest push to emerge as stars on the world stage but we keep allowing this promise to slide between our fingers.

Brazil made its name in football, why can’t we in other sports and athletics? But we must not give up. We at The Trumpet call on Nigerian youths to take Amusan’s story as an inspiration, not only in sports but in everything they do. S

he is an example of how hard work, determination and a strong sense of self-worth can take one anywhere in the world and help to achieve one’s dreams.

We congratulate Tobi Amusan. Nigeria is proud of this daughter who has lifted our heads and lightened our hearts with a spark of good, uplifting news in these troubling and troubled times.

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