World champion Amusan remembers how her father burnt her training gear

Oviri Kelvin, Sports Editor, Abuja

  • Time may have malfunctioned- Michael Johnson
  • Johnson accused of racism for criticising time
World champion in the 100m hurdles, Tobi Amusan, recounts her ordeal in the hands of her father who prefers to see her take her studies seriously in the early days of her career.

Amusan held the world to a standstill with her record of 12.12s at the recently concluded World Athletics Championships in Oregon.

On her road to stardom, the 25-year-old athlete competed in the 2019 World Athletics Championships and the delayed 2020 Tokyo Olympics, emerging fourth but her determination to excel in the sports spurred her into breaking the world record.

The Nigeria golden star did not win the race by chance as her records dated back to Warri 2013 when she won the silver medal in 200m at African Youth Athletics Championships, Delta State. Following, in 2015, at the African Junior Championships in Addis Ababa, Amusan clinched the gold medal.

Also in 2015 at the All Africa Games, Brazaville, the Ijebu-Ode-born athlete won the gold medal in the 100m hurdles.

The world star excelled in the Commonwealth Games and also in the All Africa Games, winning gold medals in Gold Coast and Rabat, in Australia and Morocco respectively.

Amusan, in her interview with BBC Sports, said her parents, both teachers, wanted her to focus on her studies; especially her dad who was opposed to her dreams and took drastic actions against her the moment he got the hint that she sneaked out to partake in competitions.

“My parents are both teachers, they are strict disciplinarians,” Amusan said.

“When you grow up in such a family, they feel you should focus on school. And being a female, they think you are going to go astray, lose focus and all of that.

“But because my mum saw what I didn’t see [in] myself, she felt she could give me a chance. And she kept telling me not to disappoint her.

“My mum would tell my dad I was going to church while I sneaked to practice or tell him I was going to a school debate while I went to an out-of-state competition. That’s where it all started.

“My dad got really mad one time when he found out [I was running]. He burnt all my training gear and told my mum that’s the last time he wanted to see me in a stadium,” Amusan added.

However, metamorphosing into reality, Amusan has grown from that teenager being constrained from fulfilling her dream to become the world record star, putting Nigeria’s name on the echelon of the global athletics map.

Read Also: World Athletics Championships: Obaseki hails Amusan on new world record, gold win

“It has not sunk in yet, maybe the magnitude of what just happened will hit me later,” she said.

“I go out there and put 100% in every championship and it’s just never enough. Every time it’s a fourth-place finish.

“Then this time my 100% is not only a gold medal but a world record. Trusting myself just made everything easier. I’m thankful to the man above for keeping me healthy. When God says it’s your time, it’s your time,” Amusan acknowledged.

Meanwhile, world track legend Michael Johnson has criticised the time recorded by Amusan. In the event, 12 out of the 24 athletes that competed in the semi-finals had their best times in the event.

He opined that for such several athletes to record their best possible times that means the timing system must have malfunctioned.

This comment by the 54-year-old did not go down well as the global community took a swipe at the four-time Olympic gold medalist calling him unprintable names.

“I don’t believe 100h (100m hurdles) times are correct,” Johnson said in a tweet.

“World record broken by .08! 12 PBs (personal bests) set. 5 National records set. And Cindy Sember’s quote after her PB/NR (national record) ‘I thought I was running slow!’ All athletes looked shocked [sic].

“Heat 2 we were first shown a winning time of 12.53. Few seconds later it shows 12.43. Rounding down by 0.1 is normal. .10 is not,” he questioned.

Although Johnson expected to get positive responses for his observation, he got a shocker in his life to the extent he was accused of being a ‘Black racist’.

One of the commentators noted that Johnson, who is a BBC commentator, is on a vindictive mission after the United States 4x400m team were stripped of their Sydney 2000 Olympic gold medal after a member of their quartet conceded violating the anti-doping rule.

“The US 4x400m team that had Michael Johnson was stripped of the Sydney 2000 Olympic gold medal because Antonio Pettigrew confessed that he doped during the competition,” the tweet read.

“The Nigerian team was eventually awarded the gold medal. Do you understand his bitterness now?” it added.

However, Johnson quickly responded, lamenting the derogatory comments that followed his opinion.

He said, “The level of ‘dumbassery’ coming across my feed right now is truly staggering!

“As a commentator, my job is to comment. In questioning the times of 28 athletes (not 1 athlete) by wondering if the timing system malfunctioned.

“I was attacked, accused of racism, and of questioning the talent of an athlete I respect and predicted to win. Unacceptable. I move on,” Johnson lamented.

Amusan’s feat has brought honour to the family, nation and the black race and has engraved her name in the record book of history.

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