With a number of international achievements recorded by some Nigerian athletes in the previous year, Tribunesport’s TAOFEEK LAWAL, in this article, highlights the outstanding performance of the sensational Tobi Amusan, making him the undisputed Nigerian Sports Personality of the Year.
Indisputably, 2022 remains Nigeria’s best year in the world of athletics and one of the athletes who made it happen is sprint and hurdles star Oluwatobiloba Ayomide Amusan, known as Tobi Amusan.
The Ogun State-born Amazon, affectionately called ‘Ijebu Girl’, will not forget 2022 as soon as she shone like a million stars.
Although Amusan has been in the spotlight for some time now, her feat of becoming the first Nigerian world champion and world record holder in track and field this year stands out.
Against all odds, Amusan on July 24, 2022 in the United States at the World Championships in Athletics tagged ‘Oregon 2022’ dusted off others at Hayward Field, Eugene, to win the gold medal in the 100m hurdles.
She also in the process set a new world record in a time of 12.12 seconds which she achieved in the semi-final of the race.
Amusan again won gold in the 100m hurdles at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham to retain the title he won at Gold Coast 2018, as he also retained the Diamond League Trophy in Zurich with a new record of 12.29 seconds. She dusted off the previous record held by American legend, Gail Devers, which had stood for 22 years.
Remember that Amusan, who first won Commonwealth gold in 2018, is also a two-time African Games champion in the women’s 100m hurdles.
Amusan in tears of joy on the podium at Oregon 2022 bagged $100,000 in prize money for her feat in which she bested Britany Anderson of Jamaica and Olympic champion Jasmine Camacho-Quinn of Cuba, among others.
“I trusted my hard work. I trusted that God was in control and kept telling myself, ‘breathe’, it’s just another competition. It is a blessing to come here to show our talent and we are a very big country and the few of us who have been given talent by God, we come here to glorify God,” said an elated Amusan.
The Oregon 2022 feat was well celebrated as it added a chapter to the history of Nigerian sport.
After his historic performance, President Muhammadu Buhari bestowed the title of Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON) on Amusan, a product of Our Lady of Apostles High School, Ijebu Ode.
At 16, Amusan was already an accomplished athlete. He won silver in the 200m at the 2013 African Junior Championships held in Warri, Delta State.
A year later, he won his first major medal in the 100m hurdles, which was also silver, at the African Youth Games. In 2015, he won gold in the event at the 2015 African Junior Athletics Championships in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and in the same year, while making his African Games debut at age 18, he won the gold medal in the 100 meters with fences
Amusan remains the reigning World, Commonwealth and African champion in the 100m hurdles today, as she also holds the Games records in all three competitions.
Sporting and Youth Development Minister Sunday Dare, while praising Amusan after Oregon 2022, said: “I am so proud of what Tobi Amusan, Ese Brume and even those who did not make the podium have accomplished in Eugene, Oregon. This is the start of great things for Nigerian athletics. This is a new dawn.
“Years of hard work and constant knocking on the door have paid just 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 appointed Ogun State Sports Ambassador by Governor Dapo Abiodun.
The Governor in his office in Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta, also showered Amusan with N5 million and a house in Ijebu Ode, in thanks for his effort to make Ogun State proud.
What would have been the icing on the cake for Amusan turned into a mirage on December 5 when World Athletics named American hurdler Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone the Women’s World Athlete of the Year. Amusan thus finished among the five best female athletes of the past year along with the Jamaican Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, the Peruvian Kimberly García and the Venezuelan Yulimar Rojas.
What turned out to be a consolation for Amusan was the African honor. As one of the top five in the world, Amusan is still the best on the continent and there is no controversy about it.
Last week, the Confederation of African Athletics (CAA) named Amusan the 2022 Best Female Athlete of the Year from Africa.
The graduate in Kinesiology from the University of Texas won the African gong to the detriment of the Kenyan Faith Kipyegon and the Ethiopian Letesenbet Gidey, both world champions in the 1500 and 1000 meters by occupying second and third place respectively.
Nonetheless, given his exploits, the name of Amusan has entered Nigerian folklore. She remains one of Nigeria’s sporting legends and a hero who will always be celebrated. All hail the queen of the track, Tobi Amusan, Nigeria’s undisputed Sports Personality of the Year.
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