With a number of international achievements recorded by some Nigerian athletes in the outgoing year, Tribunesport’s TAOFEEK LAWAL, in this piece, highlights the outstanding performance of sensational Tobi Amusan, which makes her the undisputed Nigeria’s Sports Personality of the Year.
Unarguably, 2022 remains Nigeria’s best year in the world of athletics and one of the athletes who made it possible is sprint and hurdles star, Oluwatobiloba Ayomide Amusan, known as Tobi Amusan.
The Ogun State-born amazon fondly called ‘Ijebu Girl’ will not forget 2022 in a hurry as she shone like a million stars.
Though, Amusan has been in the limelight for sometime now, her feat of becoming the first Nigerian world champion and world record holder in athletics this year stands out.
Against all odds, Amusan on July 24, 2022 in the United States at the World Athletics Championships tagged ‘Oregon 2022’ dusted others at the Hayward Field, Eugene, to win the 100m hurdles gold medal.
She also in the process set a new world record in a time of 12.12 seconds which she attained in the semifinal of the race.
Amusan won the 100m hurdles gold again at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham to retain the title she won at the Gold Coast 2018, as she also retained the Diamond League Trophy in Zurich in a new meet record of 12.29 seconds. She dusted the previous record held by American legend, Gail Devers which stood for 22 years.
Recall Amusan who first won the Commonwealth gold in 2018, is also a two-time African Games champion in the women’s 100m hurdles.
Amusan amid tears of joy on the podium at Oregon 2022 bagged $100,000 as prize money for her feat where she outclassed Jamaica’s Britany Anderson and Olympic champion, Cuba’s Jasmine Camacho-Quinn, among others.
“I trusted my hard work. I trusted God was in control and just kept saying to myself, ‘breathe’, it is just another competition. It’s a blessing coming out here to showcase our talent and we are a very big country and the few of us who God has given the talent, we come out here to glorify God,” an elated Amusan had said.
The Oregon 2022 feat was well celebrated as it added a chapter to the history of Nigerian sports.
Following her historic performance, President Muhammadu Buhari conferred the Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON) on Amusan, a product of Our Lady of Apostles Secondary School, Ijebu Ode.
At 16, Amusan was already an accomplished athlete. She won the 200m silver at the 2013 African Youth Championships held in Warri, Delta State.
A year later, she took her first major medal in the 100m hurdles, which was also silver, at the African Youth Games. In 2015, she won the gold in the event at the 2015 African Junior Athletics Championships in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and in the same year, while making her All-Africa Games debut at 18, she won the gold medal in the 100m hurdles.
Amusan today remains the current World, Commonwealth and African champion in the 100m hurdles, as she also holds the Games records in the three competitions.
Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, while commending Amusan after Oregon 2022 said, “I am so proud of what Tobi Amusan, Ese Brume, and even those who didn’t get on the podium have achieved in Eugene, Oregon. This is the beginning of great things for Nigerian athletics. This is a new dawn.
“Years of hard work and consistently knocking on the door has yielded the right dividends. For the first time in our history, we have a world champion. This is huge. Congratulations to Nigeria.”
Amusan on October 4 was also named Ogun State Sports Ambassador by Governor Dapo Abiodun.
The governor in his office at Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta, also showered Amusan with N5 million and a house in Ijebu Ode, in appreciation of her effort in making Ogun State proud.
What would have been the icing on the cake for Amusan became a mirage on December 5 as the World Athletics named American hurdler, Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone, the Female World Athlete of the Year. Amusan thus finished among the five best female athletes in the outgoing year alongside Jamaica’s Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Peru’s Kimberly Garcia, and Venezuela’s Yulimar Rojas .
What turned out to be a consolation for Amusan was the African honour. As one of the five best in the world, Amusan remains the best on the continent and there is no controversy about this.
Only last week, the Confederation of African Athletics (CAA) named Amusan as Africa’s Best Female Athlete of the Year 2022.
The graduate of Kinesiology from the University of Texas clinched the African gong at the expense of Kenyan Faith Kipyegon and Ethiopian Letesenbet Gidey, who are both world champions in the 1500m and 1000m as they were ranked second and third respectively.
Notwithstanding, given her exploits, Amusan’s name has entered into Nigeria’s folklore. She remains one of Nigeria’s sports legends and a heroine who will always be celebrated. All hail the track queen, Tobi Amusan, undisputed Nigeria’s Sports Personality of the Year.
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