Tobi Amusan’s gold at the recent World Athletics Championships was a win not just for Nigeria but for Africa, says the 25-year-old.
For years, Nigerian-born Oluwatobiloba Amusan considered herself as the “almost girl”. She placed fourth at the IAAF World Athletics Championships in Doha in 2019 and fourth again at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
So, when on July 24 this year, she smashed the 100-meter women’s hurdles world record with an outstanding 12.12 seconds in the semi-finals and 12.06 for the finals, the ‘almost girl’ finally bagged a gold medal at the World Athletics Championships in Oregon in the United States becoming the first world champion from Nigeria.
“I thank God for his blessing and for finally giving me the strength to come first place. I feel like this is a win not only for myself but also for Nigeria and Africa,” says Amusan.
She beat former record-holder Kendra Harrison’s 2016 record of 12.20 by 0.8 of a second.
“It was very competitive so the goal was to execute and survive to the finals and I thank God for keeping me healthy throughout the process,” says Amusan to FORBES AFRICA.
The 25-year-old sprinter was born in Ogun State in the Western part of Nigeria. She began her sports career as a soccer player until her coach decided she had a lot more potential for the track.
“I ended up beating all the best people in the team and that’s how I found my calling.”
That calling took her to the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) where she held several titles including the 60-meter indoor record, the 200-meter indoor record, the 100-meter hurdles as well as the 200-meter flat record.
In a statement conveyed by the special advisor to the president on media and publicity, Femi Adesina, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari said on Amusan’s win: “The President joins millions of Nigerians in celebrating this outstanding feat by a compatriot and two-time African Games champion, who in one night stunned the athletics world with her superlative and stellar performance. The President thanks the track superstar for making the Nigerian national anthem resonate again from the international podium, leaving the nation with the excitement and unforgettable memories of tears of joy and triumph; hope and victory; incredulity and belief.”