Nigeria’s long wait for a gold medal at the World Athletics Championship was adequately rewarded in Oregon, United States in the early hours of Monday, July 25, 2022 when Oluwatobiloba (Tobi) Amusan posted a stunning victory to crown a joyous outing. The 25-year-old hurdler beat an array of sprint champions, including world record holder, Kendra Harrison, Jamaica’s Brittany Anderson, and Olympic champion, Jasmine Camacho Quinn, to emerge Africa’s first ever-gold medallist in the women’s 100m Hurdles and the best in the history of the World Athletics Championships.
The new world champion had earlier dusted all comers to a new world record of 12.12 seconds in the semi-finals and also secured an amazing 12.06 seconds in the final. The feat obliterated USA’s Kendra Harrison’s 12.20 seconds world record set in 2016. It was the first for Nigeria in 36 years and the fourth world record set in women’s hurdles. Amusan got $70,000 for winning gold at the event and $100,000 for her 12.12 seconds world record feat. It was a great moment for Nigerians when our national anthem was played in Oregon for the first time ever since 1983 when Nigeria started participating in the championships. Her rise to stardom was flagged-off in Zurich last year when she became the first Nigerian and African Hurdler to win the coveted Wanda Diamond League Trophy. Before then, Tobi had shown great promise through small beginnings. She shone like a million stars at Eko 2012 National Sports Festival and the 2013 African Youth Athletics Championsheld in Warri, Delta State, where she came to limelight. The same year, she flew Nigeria’s flag at the World Youth Championship in Donetsk, Ukraine.
Amusan’s feat has brought glory not just to her, but also to her country, Nigeria, Africa, and the black world. It is a reflection of her resilience and passion. It also embodies the true spirit of doggedness and tenacity of purpose.
On her victory, Amusa commented: “The goal was to come out and to win this gold. I just did it. Honestly, I believe in my abilities but I was not expecting a world record at these championships. You know, the goal is always just to execute well and get the win.” Fortunately for her, she won the gold.
It is commendable that despite her father’s discouragement, she believed in her conviction and pursued her dream. Her initial frustration by coaches emboldened her to achieve the golden feat in Oregon. We congratulate Amusan on her great achievement and urge her never to relent in her drive to break more records.
Despite the poor funding of sports and the politics surrounding the general development of sports in the country, it is cheering that Amusan overcame all these to make Nigeria proud at Oregon. Let those in charge of sports in the country use Amusan’s success to develop sports in such a way that merit instead of ethnicity will count in team selection.
At 25, the sky is her limit. She should deploy her youthful years to work harder and achieve more laurels for the country. We also laud her for overcoming the doubts from Nigerian Athletics’ officials and believing in herself.
Sports officials and the government have a lot of lessons to learn from Amusan’s rise to sports greatness. Her victory at Oregon should propel them to embark on more aggressive moves to develop our sports facilities. Let them extend talent hunt programmes to the hinterland. The country’s inability to win more laurels at continental and global levels must be halted.
The joy in the country over Amusan’s victory is an indication that sports can actually be deployed to unite the people. In times of despondency, sports can be the needed elixir. Beyond congratulating Amusan on her great feat, we urge the Federal Government to reward her. Doing so will spur others to emulate her worthy example.
This is the time wealthy individuals and corporate bodies should begin to invest in sports as done in other countries. Sports development should be seen as a lucrative venture. Let it be private-sector driven as it is the practice in other countries.
Government’s participation in sports should be restricted to providing policies and guidelines to enable it flourish. The current government’s needless meddlesomeness in sports is debilitating to its growth and development.