100m hurdles record holder, Tobi Amusan has opened up on how Nigerian officials made her feel that she cannot make it in athletics and how it almost made her quit the game.
Tobi Amusan broke the 100m hurdle record at the World Athletics Championship in Oregon. She ran the 100m hurdle at a record time of 12.06 seconds and shattered all records before her including her 12.12 seconds race in the semi-final of this competition.
Amusan was born in Ogun State, Nigeria and had her secondary school education and preliminary athletics training in Nigeria before travelling to Texas, USA on scholarship to further her education and improve on her athletics.
Speaking to BBC, Amusan described her stay in Nigeria and how challenging it was. She spoke about how officials in the 2013 African Youth Games didn’t pick her for women’s relay team despite being capable. She later won the bronze medal in long jump of the competition.
“The officials were always picking who they wanted in the relay team. Sometimes they would say I didn’t have the experience so they would pick whoever was their favourite,” Amusan told BBC.
“It was a lot of pressure on a young athlete. I considered quitting. I really wanted to travel with the senior national team and some coaches told me to try the hurdles.”
Despite switching to hurdles, Amusan revealed that she still had to overcome doubts from athletics officials before being picked to represent Nigeria where she won her first senior hurdles title at the African Games in Congo-Brazzaville in 2015.
“The typical Nigerian approach is to make you feel like you cannot make it,” she said
“I wasn’t expected to medal at those Games. There were so many voices saying I couldn’t but I used that to show that I could – and that title changed my life.
“That’s how I got a scholarships to the United States. I can say that’s really when my athletics career began. I never dreamt of going to the United States. I just wanted to run fast and be one of the Nigerian greats.”
Since moving to attend the University of Texas, El Paso, Amusan has been well trained and enlightened in the Athletics world.
In 2018, she won gold in the 100m hurdles at the Commonwealth Games in Australia, and also won her first African Championships title in Nigeria.
However, the 25-year-old has agonizingly missed out on a podium finish at two major events, finishing fourth twice- at the 2019 and 2021 World Championships in Doha and Tokyo respectively.
“2019 was tough because I remember running the fastest time in the qualification rounds, around the same time in the semi-finals and the same time in the final,” she said.
“I ran so fast but wasn’t fast enough to get a medal. I was broken, I was devastated. That was one of the most horrible experiences.
“I moved on, and then came the Tokyo Olympics. Things just crumbled a month before when I strained my hamstring at practice.”
Things are now rosy for the Athletic Queen, Tobi Amusan as she is now bring celebrated all over the world for her excellence.