As one of Africa’s leading countries in Track and Field, Nigeria has produced many athletes who have made history in their respective events, winning global medals and setting continental records too. However, Nigeria was yet to produce a World Record (WR) holder in Athletics.
When Tobi Amusan stormed to a new African Record (AR) of 12.42s while racing at the 2021 Diamond League final in Zurich, she joined the likes of Ajayi Agbebaku (Triple Jump), Innocent Egbunike (400m), Mary Onyali (200m), Falilat Ogunkoya (400m), Anthony Idiata (High Jump), Olapade Adeniken (200m), Chioma Ajunwa (Long Jump), Glory Alozie (100m Hurdles), Olusoji Fasuba (100m), Ese Brume (Long Jump) and a host of others who had also set ARs in the course of their careers.
She bettered her AR at the 2022 Paris Diamond League (12.41s), and took 0.01s off that mark in the heats of the women’s 100m Hurdles at last year’s World Championships in Oregon, USA – the fastest time across all heats.
No one had an inkling of what was to come in the semis. Drawn in the same race as former World Champion Danielle Williams who was in Lane 3, and then-World Record (WR) holder Kendra Harrison (Lane 6), Amusan, who was in Lane 4, shot out of the blocks at the blast of the gun.
With Harrison also going strong, the Nigerian strengthened her lead and began to steer clear of the rest of the field by the seventh hurdle and crossed the line in an explosive 12.12s – a new WR!!!
The African Champion was as stunned as her rivals, her eyes widening in shock as she took a glance at the clock while crossing the line. She had to walk back towards the timer and as soon as she realised that she had indeed broken Harrison’s WR of 12.20s, an ecstatic Amusan rushed to Williams to celebrate her astonishing feat.
She was now a WR holder – Nigeria’s first and only WR holder in Track and Field.
Speaking afterwards, she said: “The goal was to come out and to win this gold,” she said. “Honestly, I believe in my abilities, but I was not expecting a world record at these championships.”
Her ground breaking feat was voted by fans as the 13th Greatest World Championships Moment (out of 40) in commemoration of the 40-year history of the World Athletics Championships.
‘Tobi Amusan’s Top 5 Track Moments’ is a five-part series highlighting the major achievements of Nigeria’s only World Champion and World Record holder in Track and Field – Tobi Amusan – even as she gets set to defend her world title at the ongoing World Championships in Budapest, Hungary. Here are Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 of the series.