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100m hurdles: My Success Story – Amusan

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Tobi Amusan has become a world record holder and a world champion in the 100m hurdles, but she still remembers her father burning her running gear.
A fourth-placed finisher at both the 2019 World Athletics Championships and the delayed 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the Nigerian’s persistence has finally seen her engrave her name into the track and field record books.
The 25-year-old ran a time of 12.12 seconds, shaving almost a tenth of a second off the previous world record, in the semi-finals of the World Championships in Oregon before going on to win gold in the final.
However, it always seemed as if the odds were stacked against her running career from the beginning.
“My parents are both teachers, they are strict disciplinarians,” Amusan disclosed.
“When you grow up in such a family, they feel you should focus on school. And being a female, they think you are going to go astray, lose focus and all of that.
“But because my mum saw what I didn’t see [in] myself, she felt she could give me a chance. And she kept telling me not to disappoint her.
“My mum would tell my dad I was going to church while I sneaked to practice or tell him I was going to a school debate while I went to an out-of-state competition. That’s where it all started.
“My dad got really mad one time when he found out [I was running]. He burnt all my training gear and told my mum that’s the last time he wanted to see me in a stadium.”
Fast forward several years, and tears of joy flowed freely as Amusan stood on the top step of the podium at Hayward Field on a historic day for Nigeria, which saw the country’s national anthem played at the World Athletics Championships for the first time ever.
“It has not sunk in yet, maybe the magnitude of what just happened will hit me later,” she said.
“I go out there and put 100% in every championship and it’s just never enough. Every time it’s a fourth-place finish.
“Then this time my 100% is not only a gold medal but a world record. Trusting myself just made everything easier. I’m thankful to the man above for keeping me healthy. When God says it’s your time, it’s your time.”
Her father may have doubted her, but Amusan has always had plenty of belief in her own ability.
Back in November 2016 she tweeted:
“Unknown now but soon I will be unforgettable, I will persist until I succeed.” That message has remained pinned to the top of her social media profile and provides a summary of her rise to glory in Eugene.
Yet her journey into athletics started as somewhat of an accident at Our Lady of Apostles Secondary School in Ogun state, Nigeria.
“I used to be on the soccer team, but I would be all over the place on the pitch,” Amusan said.
“My coach suggested I go try out on the track team and I became the fastest girl on the team, and that’s how I got on the school relay team.”
She went on to make the national squad for the 2013 Africa Youth Games in Nigeria, but she missed out on a place on the relay team and went on to win a bronze in the long jump instead.
Competing over hurdles was another unexpected switch in Amusan’s journey to stardom, and is where she would truly break through on the senior stage.
“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,” she explained.
“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.”
She had to overcome doubts from officials in Nigerian athletics before picking up 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 win a 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 scholarship 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 not looked back.
She won gold in the 100m hurdles at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia, and later the same year took her first African Championships title on home soil in Asaba.
Yet at major global events, she would agonizingly miss out on medals, finishing fourth at the World Championships in Doha three years ago and then again in Tokyo last year.
“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.”
She has constant support from her mother, but her father has remained unfazed by her exploits.
“Honesty, he still doesn’t support me doing track,” she said.
“He just feels like there’s more to life than running around. Every time I call him when I’m at a competition he just says ‘Okay, do your best, God will help you’ and that’s it.”
The newly-minted world champion and record holder, who also picked up a cheque for $100,000 for her blistering showing in Oregon, will now defend her Commonwealth gold in Birmingham.
Given Amusan’s starting success, her father will surely embrace her achievements soon.

By: Lynne Wachira
.Wachira writes for BBC Sport.

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NOC Secures Support Scholarship  For Four Athletes

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After excelling at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham where Team Nigeria topped the African medals table, the Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC) has changed gear towards ensuring another podium finish by securing scholarships for its athletes for Paris 2024 Olympics.
The NOC has named four latest recipients of ANOCA Athlete Support Progrmme for PARIS 2024, with the athletes all regarded as prospects for the Paris Olympic Games.
President of Nigeria Olympic Committee, NOC, Engr Habu Gumel who is also ANOCA Treasurer- General, announced Enekwechi Chukwuebuka (Athletics), Kolawole Esther Omolayo (Wrestling), Ogbonne Eze Joy(Weightlifting) and Olarinoye Adijat Adenike (Weightlifting) as the recipients.
Gumel said that the funds would support their goal of competing in the Olympic Games.
The four Nigerian athletes are among the 50 athletes chosen by ANOCA as the Commission predicated the allocation process on performance criteria and sports and Olympic ethics.
The ANOCA Athletes’ Support Programme aims to provide support for the preparation and qualification of elite athletes with the potential to qualify and perform well at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.
The Commission recommends that NOCs use part of the grant for their athlete support and preparation activities.
Throwing more light on the ANOCA Athlete Support Programme for Paris 2024, NOC Scribe, Banji Oladapo said: “Chasing an Olympic dream takes incredible determination and talent, these four athletes have all demonstrated they have what it takes. But they also need support to train, compete and maximize their performance opportunities around the world to provide the best opportunity to represent Nigeria at the Paris Games”.

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‘NFF Elections Must Hold By Sept 20’

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The First Vice President of the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF), Seyi Akinwunmi, has said that the Executive Committee must uphold the authority of the NFF Congress that elections be held before the current board’s term expires.
In a three-minute video, the Lagos State Football Association boss declared his position for the staging of the polls in September.
“As you are all aware, there has been a dark cloud of uncertainties surrounding the administration of our football in the past few months.
“I wish to make it abundantly clear that I support the total adherence to the NFF Statutes, the supremacy of the congress and the commitment that NFF elections be held on or before 20 September 2022.
“As a football family, this is yet another time when we are called upon to come together and put football first.”
Akinwunmi, who is reputed for his grassroots football development efforts revealed that the process that would lead to the staging of the polls began with the Annual General Assembly expected to have held yesterday  in Lagos.
“In full alignment and agreement with the above, I’m aware that the NFF Statutes is the supreme law for the administration of football in Nigeria,  subject of course to any conflict with the laws of Nigeria. By virtue of the NFF Statutes, the annual general assembly as currently constituted is the supreme legislative body for the NFF.
“The General Assembly will consider a roadmap towards this year’s Elective Congress of NFF, as well as such items as may be proposed by the members or members of the Executive Committee”, had said.
Meanwhile, Senator Shehu Sani has challenged Super Eagles legends Jay-Jay Okocha, Nwankwo Kanu, Daniel Amokachi, Segun Odegbami and Tijani Babangida to emulate Didier Drogba and Samuel Eto’o and contest for the NFF presidency.
“The NFF election is here again. Ex-Nigerian Super Eagles should step forward and take the mantle of football administration.
“Emulate Samuel Eto’o & (Didier) Drogba. Where is Okocha, Nwankwo, Amokachi, Odegbami and Babangida?” he posed.

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African U-21 Volleyball: Nigeria Brushes Off Gambia

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Nigeria’s U-21 Volleyball team defeated Gambia 3-0 (25-21, 25-16, 25-15) to record its second consecutive win at the ongoing African U-21 Men’s Nation Volleyball Championship in Tunisia.
In the first set, Nigeria won seven service points (29 per cent), 18 receivers’ points (82 per cent), one ace, had four maximum points in a row, four service errors and zero timeouts to record a 25-21 points lead.
Nigeria had a better outing in the second set with 12 service points, 13 receivers’ points, one ace, four maximum points in a row, zero service errors and no timeouts to win by 25-16 points.
In the final set, the Nigerians recorded one ace, five maximum points in a row, one service error, no timeouts, 12 service points and 13 receivers’ points to win 25-15.
Nigeria’s Abdulquadri Jaiyeola recorded 19 points in the match against The Gambia with 13 attacks, three blocks and one ace from service
Speaking after the match, Nigeria’s Head Coach, Sani Mohammed, said the team wants to finish top of the group to stand a chance of qualifying for the semifinals.
“This is a great result for the team; we want to secure all the available points in the group stage. The assistant coach, Suleiman Ajeigbe and I took our time to study The Gambians when they played against Tunisia. The Gambian side is good but we are better.
“The goal is to finish first in Group A and either meet Egypt or Cameroun in the second round. Any of the teams that come our way in the next round will be played with our last drop. The boys are ready to make Nigeria proud and get one of the available tickets to the 2023 FIVB World Championship,” Sani said.
Nigeria faced Tunisia in their last group match.

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