Just like an oasis in the desert, world record holder, Tobi Amusan (OON), has proven that breaking the world record was no fluke, and this is something she can do repeatedly. Amusan was recently hosted to a rousing reception and befitting home-coming dinner event in Lagos organised by her sport management outfit, Plug Sports.
In a chat with reporters, the Ijebu-Ode-born athletics queen shared her story of how she took a $50,000 loan to aid her preparation for the World Athletics Championships and other issues. ALAO ABIODUN reports.
How does it feel to be ratified?
That is the best feeling ever because we know we’ve done the work. It’s a breath of fresh air for me and I’m still getting a hang of everything happening to me right now. My 200 million soldiers across Nigeria supported me through the World Championships, Commonwealth Games and the Diamond League, I trust them.
What was the feeling like the moment you crossed the line?
It was accomplishing for me because looking back at the previous years of major tournaments and championship, it was always fourth place finish. That one time was not just like any medal. It was a world record; the first Nigerian to do everything on that stage. I felt elated.
How does it feel to finally beat those you’ve competing with, the likes of Puerto Rico’s Jasmine Camacho-Quinn and USA’s Kendra Harrison?
This is a competitive event and I would not say it is not challenging. When I lined-up against the other seven, I knew it was me versus the clock. In as much as you are aware of the environment and the people you are competing against; you just have to bring your A-Game every time.
On the issue of the 4x100m relay race at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, Grace Nkwocha is facing a doping test and has been provisionally suspended by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU), what is your reaction if she is stripped of the medal?
Honestly, my name is Tobi Amusan and for Grace Nkwocha, we are not related. Although, I competed in the race but that is something she has to account for. Until the final verdict is passed, I can’t speak on behalf of anybody.
Your numbers grew sufficiently on social media when you took the world by storm. How does that feel for you?
At least the few Nigerians that appreciate what we do give us a follow and those that love other things just come on your page and scroll by. But I am still grateful for the little support system I’ve got.
Did you feel sad with the backlash from American sprinter Micheal Johnson?
Honestly, I keep doing my thing because after the World Championship, I have other competitions to attend. I don’t dwell on negativity so I look at the brighter side of the sport.
What is the future for Tobi Amusan?
To keep working at standing up for myself. Just build on what I have and keep showing up.
Now that your world record is ratified, what was the result of your dope sample?
If my world record is ratified, it means I am clean and free. That feels great. And if you are asking for the update on my doping test, I would like to say that it is confidential. It is between me and the officials of the competition (WADA) and not for the public.
After the feat that took the world by storm, the press could not get your parents to talk to them for reasons unknown. What can you say about that?
They have not been in this kind of spotlight before now. Everybody wants to come behind my back and talk to my family. It is not done like that. There are procedures to follow. My management had to set up a meeting to discuss things. And I really do not want them to be caught up in the moment with the press in their faces.
How do you feel about the title ‘Officer of the Niger of the Order (OON)’ bestowed to you by President Buhari?
It is a great feeling to be recognised by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. In as much as we did the work, it is an honour that took accountability that we did make the nation proud. It was such a great feeling getting that title.
What goes on in your mind in each event you are competing for?
Every time I step on the track, the goal is to win.
How can we get another Tobi Amusan?
Grassroot development of sport is something we actually lack. We tend to lose our top athletes to trainers in the United States. If we have such development here to groom young ones, we are going to have a lot of Tobi Amusan.
On a lighter note, what is your love life like, is Tobi single?
Chill…right now I am working hard on myself, my career. I know at the right time a man will come. There are men watching me now but at the right time my man will come
Who is your favourite actor?
Laughs… On the male side, Odunlade Adekola and for female, Mide Martins.
What do you do for fun?
I sleep. A lot. As an athlete, I eat everything that I can, especially things that can give me energy.
There is the news that you borrowed $50,000 loan to prepare for the World Athletics Championships. Is that so?
Definitely, yes. I get injured a couple of times.
There was so much I needed to do when it comes to my health as a professional athlete, and staying on top of my game required a lot of funding.