Sports Gazette

by sports journalism students at St Mary's University, London

TOBI AMUSAN – A CASE OF NIGERIA’S UNMOTIVATED TRIUMPHS

Posted on 26 July 2022 by Mary Akinsola

On the 24th of July 2022, Nigeria stood tall amongst its fellow athletics loving nations. Africa’s largest country currently plagued with inflation as the dollar keeps rising against the naira and insecurity birthed by a mix of Boko Haram terrorism and widespread kidnappings, takes a break from its woes. It celebrates a woman who took upon her shoulders the dreams of Nigeria.

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Nigerian Athlete Tobi Amusan broke the World Record twice in a day to set a 100m hurdles world record of 12.12 seconds at the World Athletics Championships in Oregon. A record that has shaken the core of the athletics world for its finesse, its beauty and sheer excellence.

Amusan has now achieved both an African and a World Record and this is despite the hurdles that plague athletics in Nigeria and translates to its athletic performance on the World Stage. Issues such as lack of infrastructure, government interference, non-existent government support amongst other things keeps hindering athletes but by sheer personal determination and individual brilliance they bring home the goodies like Amusan has done.

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NIGERIAN ATHLETICS TRIALS 2021

The Nigerian 2021 Olympics Trials were held at the Yaba College of Technology, Lagos on the 16th of August 2021 by the Athletics Federation of Nigeria.

Tobi Amusan ran what everyone believed to be an unofficial African record of 12.3s which would have broken Olympic silver medalist Gloria Alozie’s 1998 African record of 12.44s.

It was only after the race, to the sheer horror of Amusan and other onlookers did they realize that the event’s electronic timer was faulty, and the race time went unrecorded.

Unfortunately, Amusan’s record time went unacknowledged by World Athletics which only recognizes time recorded by the official electronic timer and she went on to finish fourth at the Tokyo Olympics and the Doha Diamond League.

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Of course, while Amusan’s heart broke and she was left in tears, the Athletics Federation of Nigeria who were solely responsible for this disaster never officially accepted the blame neither did they bother to publicly apologize for this gaffe. They kept shifting responsibility to one another until it all died down and was swept under the carpet in usual Nigerian fashion.

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Today, these same group of people are rejoicing and grappling for whatever honors they can get from Amusan’s success at the World Athletics Championships with Ministry of Youth and Sports development and the AFN strategically pushing out press releases about its commitment to athletes’ successes to bring some optics in their favor

AFTER ‘NIGERIA’ HAPPENS TO YOU

While Nigeria rejoices at this feat of Tobi Amusan, it also needs to look inwards and reflect on its many failing and its hunger to frustrate anyone and anything that could bring gratification to itself hence the common slang ‘May Nigeria never happen to you’. From lack of proper testing measures to refusal to commit financially to athlete development and renumeration, Nigeria continues to drag its athletes backwards

Today, this same country whose athletics officials never took responsibility for its actions and whose administrators never apologized to Tobi Amusan for their failings, had its anthem sung at the World Athletics Championships with a World Record holder flying its flag. This is as undeserving as it could get

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Tobi Amusan got to that podium simply because of investments she made in herself. She left the shores of Nigeria to the United States on an athletics scholarship and had to source for resources herself to attain this feat the world has witnessed.

Nigeria simply cannot keep dashing the hopes of its citizens who keep working day and night to become better versions of themselves, then creep in at some point to get a part of the glory when the ultimate has been achieved like we have seen in Amusan’s case.

WAKE UP NIGERIA

Nigeria needs to get its act together. It needs to arise from its slumber now. It needs to assign square pegs square holes and get rid of powers that refuse to take responsibility for their misgivings. It needs to harness its human resources and invest heavily in them. It needs to be a part of the process and not just a beneficiary of the results of the process.

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Amusan has done herself proud in Oregon, all would now look forward to seeing the current World and Commonwealth champion replicate this sterling performance at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham which begins on the 28th of July 2022.