Photo Credit: UTEP Track & Field/Cross Country

Tobi Amusan’s sterling performance in her first year at the University of Texas El Paso hasn’t gone unnoticed as the Nigerian hurdler was on Friday named the 2016 Conference USA Track Athlete of the Year by head coaches in the league.

Incidentally, she is only the second athlete in UTEP history to win this award, following the steps of compatriot Blessing Okagbare who did same in 2010.

But while Okagbare achieved this feat as a senior, Amusan clinched this award as a Freshman, underlining how far she can go in the near future.

The African Games Champion has been in brilliant form this season, winning most of her races since arriving in El Paso in January. She kicked off her career in the indoor season, which culminated in a win in the 60m Hurdles at the Conference USA Indoor Championships in 8.23s, the third-best time in school history.

The reigning African Junior Champion was named Freshman of the Meet and High Point Scorer at the Conference USA Outdoor Championships after winning the 100m Hurdles and 200m, and finishing 2nd in the Long Jump in PBs of 13.06s, 23.27s and 6.06m respectively.

Tobi Amusan further lowered her time at the UTEP Invitational where she broke 13s for the first time in her career, running a scorching time of 12.83s to erase Kim Turner’s 33-year old school record of 12.95s. The time was the fourth fastest in the world then and second fastest time ever run by a junior athlete.

In her most recent outing, Amusan came from being the last qualifier in the final, to a 2nd place finish behind Jasmine Camacho-Quinn at the NCAA Division I Track and Field Championships where she clocked a wind-aided 12.79s, crossing the finishing line ahead of tournament favourite Cindy Ofili who placed 4th.

UTEP Head Coach Mika Laaksonen was full of praises for Amusan while speaking with reporters:

“Tobi is not only a great athlete, but an excellent student as well. We couldn’t have really asked for much more from a freshman student-athlete. During the recruiting process, we were told that she is the ‘next Blessing Okagbare’.

“When this skinny little girl arrived at UTEP this January, it was kind of difficult to visualize her dominating her competitors the way Blessing did. Now, after her first season here, she has definitely made me a believer.”

Photo Credit: UTEP Track & Field/Cross Country

 

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Yemi Olus is a Senior Sportswriter and Editor at Making of Champions. She has a bias for Athletics and was previously a Sports Reporter at the National Mirror, where she hosted a weekly column ‘On the Track with Yemi Olus’ for over two years. A self-acclaimed ‘athletics junkie’, she has covered national and international events live, such as the African Athletics Championships, African Games and IAAF World Championships. She also freelances for World Athletics.

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