- Tobi Amusan
Year 2022 can be rechristened ‘Tobi Amusan’s year’: this was indeed the season everything came together for the super talented hurdler. It is no surprise she was named Best Female Athlete in Africa for 2022 by the Confederation of African Athletics (CAA) ahead of Faith Kipyegon and Letesenbet Gidey, and was also one of the finalists for the World Female Athlete of the Year award.
Amusan’s exploits in the outgoing year redefined Nigeria’s Track and Field landscape in no small measure as she competed in her specialist event 25 times and secured 17 victories to cement her No.1 status this year.
13 races into the season, the two-time African champion bettered her own 100m Hurdles African Record (AR) by a hundredth of a second, running a new AR of 12.41s at the Wanda Diamond League in Paris, having already successfully defended her African Championships title in Mauritius (12.57s) and also anchored Nigeria to GOLD in the women’s 4x100m.
She retained her National crown with a Championship Record (CR) of 12.54s before moving to the World Championships in Oregon, making her third appearance at the Worlds. ‘Tobi Express’ as she’s fondly called by Nigerians, showed she was in the form of her life by running a new AR of 12.40s to cross the line first – the fastest qualifying time across all heats!
The whole world and Amusan herself were in for a surprise when she bolted out of the blocks in the semis, taking control of the race after five hurdles and swiftly pulling away from the rest of the field to cross the line in a jaw-dropping 12.12s, smashing Kendra Harrison’s previous World Record (WR) of 12.20s set six years ago!
In spite of the weight of her achievement, the Nigerian had to quickly compose herself ahead of the final which was to take place in less than two hours. This she did and was unstoppable in the final, storming to another unbelievable time of 12.06s (+2.5) to win Nigeria’s first ever World Championships GOLD in addition to being the first Nigerian athlete to set a WR.
Tobi could not stop the tears of joy that flowed as the Nigerian anthem played during the medals presentation, a first in World Championships history. It was an emotional moment for Nigerians home and abroad and she trended for days non-stop on social media even as her following across various platforms skyrocketed.
The new WR holder would go on to retain her Commonwealth Games title in a Games Record of 12.30s and the Diamond League Trophy with a new Meet Record of 12.29s, drawing the curtains on an incredible season that saw her win the Nigerian, African, Commonwealth, World and Diamond League titles. What a year 2022 was for Tobi Amusan!