Nigerians understand the joyful tears of Tobi Amusan
The day was Wednesday, 27th of July 2022 and the time was 3:45 am-ish and I was already awake but didn’t make the mental note not to check social media but here I was and a few posts and I saw the video of Tobi Amusan singing the national anthem of Nigeria was tears, tears of joy. Nigerians who must have watched her sprints and also watched her sing the national anthem understand those tears perfectly well. And that she shook her head several times whilst the national anthem blared from the speakers, is something we understand. As one was within flights, I didn’t understand as I was not following up what was ongoing at the World Championships in Oregon.
Oluwatobiloba Ayomide “Tobi” Amusan is a Nigerian track and field athlete who specialises in the 100 metres hurdles and also competes as a sprinter. She won the 2022 World Athletics Championships in the 100 metres hurdles, setting a new world record of 12.12 seconds in the semifinal, followed up by a 12.06 in the final to take the gold medal. She was the 2018 Commonwealth and 2018 African champion and is also a two-time African Games champion in the event. She won the Diamond League Trophy in Zurich in 2021 in the 100m hurdles.
Still according to her profile on Wikipedia, from an early age, Amusan was an accomplished athlete. She was a silver medallist at the 2013 African Youth Championships in Warri. She also claimed gold in the 100 metres hurdles at the 2015 African Junior Athletics Championships in Addis Ababa. In 2015, while making her All-Africa Games debut as an eighteen-year-old, she won the gold medal in the 100 metres hurdles.
According to her World Athletics’ profile, her honours summary is more than stellar:1 time World champion, 1 time Diamond League Final winner, 1 time Commonwealth Games winner, 1 time “In Top 8 at Olympic Games.” The honours still continue; 1 time “In Top 8 at World Championships” 2 time All-African Games winner, 2 time African champion, 1 time “In Top 8 at World Indoor Championships” 1 time Commonwealth Games Bronze medalist, 1 time African Junior champion, 2 time Diamond League meeting winner, 1 time “In Top 8 at World U20 Championships”, 1 time NCAA champion, 3 time National champion, 1 time “In Top 8 at World (Continental) Cup”, 1 time Diamond Trophy winner, 1 time Current African Record holder – 100Mh, 1 time World Records in career.
As the accolades aforementioned show, Tobi Amusan has been putting in the work and has been ascending and progressing organically. So, it was not a surprise to google her name in the wee hours of Wednesday but almost all the top results from global media organisations had headlines that questioned or rather planted a seed of doubt about her world-breaking records in Oregon. It couldn’t have been a coincidence. A discussion not worth re-echoing.
The two main reasons for writing this short piece is to highlight what it takes to sing the national anthem of your country and watch it live on television or the internet. The last time Nigerians as a collective watched Nigerians sing the national anthem live, we know what followed at the Lekki Tollgate on the night of Tuesday, 20 October 2020, at about 6:50 p.m. When you watched Amusan sing the national anthem, you would realise that if you watched the live stream (in real-time) of 20 October 2020, you have not healed.
The other reason (and most pertinent) for the piece is to particularly lend a Nigerian and an African voice through the pen to celebrate Tobi Amusan’s stellar performances and her meteoric rise. Those joyful tears of her have stories to tell and Nigerians understand her journey. Nigerians would always put in more than the work needed to excel in an enabling environment. Nigerians just need an enabling environment. Tobi Amusan’s rise would be stratospheric. Rather than being a doubting Thomas or doubting Thomasina, just get used to and be comfortable with her name Tobi Amusan. Africans would tell our stories. It is what it is.
Dolapo Aina wrote from Windhoek, Namibia.
Get the latest news delivered straight to your inbox every day of the week. Stay informed with the Guardian’s leading coverage of Nigerian and world news, business, technology and sports.