If in 2016 you were trying to forecast the future of the 100m hurdles in Nigeria, there will be one name you might have picked as the real deal, the successor to the inimitable Glory Alozie, the then African record holder, World indoor, outdoor and Olympics silver medallist, it definitely would have been a then 19 year old Tobiloba Ayomide Amusan.
Nigerians had been hoping to see if there could ever be another Alozie who dominated the high hurdles landscape in 1998 when she won 18 out of 20 top quality races in the world athletics outdoor circuit, setting two new African records.
First she smashed Angela Atede’s 12.63 African best with an incredible 12.46 run in Salamanca, Spain on July 10 before improving further on it by two hundreths of a second (12.44) at the Herculis Zepter Golden League meeting in Monaco the following month.
The following year, Alozie broke the African 60m hurdles indoor record of 7.89 set in 1996 by Nicole Ramalalanirina of Madagascar first at the Sparkassen Cup in Dortmund, Germany where she ran 7.85 before lowering it further three days later with a 7.82 run at the José M. Cagigal Memorial in Madrid, Spain.
That same year the petite Alozie who three years earlier was a 13.3 runner over the 100m hurdles repeated her 12.44 African outdoor record run and smashed Mary Onyali’s 9.97 Nigeria and African 100m record with a 10.90 performance in Laguna, Tenerife Spain.
Alozie’s increbible performances in just two years looked at the time a feat no Nigerian nay African high hurdler could achieve.
Before her, there was a supremacy battle among the trio of Ime Akpan, the early leader who ruled the early 1990s and whose 13.57 run at the IAAF World Cup in La Habana, Cuba was a Nigerian record.
Taiwo Aladefa took over and became the first African to run a sub-13 seconds in the event.
Aladefa’s control of the 100m hurdles space was challenged by Angela Atede who erased the former’s 12.87 African record in 1996 (12.85) and improved on her own record with a 12.63 run at the Nigerian championships in 1997 in Lagos.
In 1996, Alozie had served notice to the duo of Aladefa and Atede that she holds the key to the future of the event after running 13.30 to win silver behind USA’s Joyce Bates-Fair (13.27) at the World Junior Championships in Sydney, Australia.
With Alozie’s change of allegiance to Spain in 2001, Nigeria lost all rights to be a super power in the women’s high hurdles in the world..until Amusan, like a bolt out of the blues came into national consciousness when she legally ran inside 13 seconds eight times in 2016.
That was the year she predicted her own future..like the great Nostradamus.
With that incredible performances, it didn’t require a soothsayer to say this is the new Glory Alozie. None however thought she could be better and her two notable near misses at the Worlds in Doha in 2019 and the delayed Tokyo Olympics in 2021 lent credence to that believe.
Alozie didn’t just wowed the world as a Nigerian in 1998 and 1999, she was voted the best in the world in 1998 by the Track and Field News. She also scored a number of firsts.
The first to win medals at the World Indoor and outdoor championships..and at the same year. The first to win a world outdoor title and an Olympic medal and of course the African 60m hurdles, 100m hurdles and 100m flat record holder in the same year!.
Amusan, seemingly undeterred by the intimidating records of Alozie believed in her dream, her prophesy.
Today, the 25 year old has broken two of the ‘African’ 100m hurdles records held by Alozie.
First she smashed the 12.74 African Games record set by Alozie in 1999 by running 12.68 20 years later.
She also erased Alozie’s 12.44 African record first in 2021 when she ran 12.42 to win the historic Diamond League trophy. Next will be the 7.82 African 60m hurdles record.
Then the unforgetable, as she rightly predicted happened. She did not just become the first Nigerian track and field athlete to win a world outdoor title, she is also the first to hold a world record!.
Relatively unknown in 2016, Amusan has persisted to succeed and she is now unforgetable.
She is in the running for the World Athlete of the year 2022 award and holds a 50-50 chance of becoming the first Nigerian athlete to be so honoured.
Tobi Amusan has indeed become unforgetable.
She is now known as the best high hurdler in the world and the fastest ever in the history of the event.
Who says dreams don’t come true? Who says you are not allowed to make prophesies?