Sports

August 26, 2023

Chioma Ajunwa sends words to Tobi Amusan

Chioma Ajunwa sends words to Tobi Amusan

Amusan

By Jacob Ajom

Tobi Amusan announced her entry into the athletics scene in 2015, when she won gold in the 100 m hurdles at the African Junior Championships and the same year, as an 18-year-old, secured her first title at the African Games. In 2021, Amusan became the first Nigerian athlete to win a Diamond League title as she took the 100m hurdles trophy, breaking the then-African record held by Glory Alozie in the process. She retained her title in 2022.

The athletics world quaked when the Nigeria star returned an unassailable time of 12,12 secs to set a World Record in the semi-finals of Women’s 100 metres Hurdles event at the 2022 World Athletics Championships in Oregon, USA. Tobi went ahead to run over the hurdles in the final and won in a time of 12.06 seconds (+2.5m/s) which was termed wind-aided. By that feat, Tobi became the first Nigerian World Champion and a World Record holder.

Nigerians sang her praises and danced in the streets. Later that same year, she won the African and Commonwealth titles, setting new records along the way.

Tobi became the cynosure of all eyes; in and out of competition. On the 16th of July, 2023, Amusan clocked a new season’s best of 12.34 seconds in the 100m Hurdles at the Silesia Diamond League meet. Her consistency in the tracks amplified her invincibility.

Suddenly, the bubble burst. Amusan was charged with missing three anti-doping controls and was referred to the Athletics Integrity Unit. The Nigerian prodigy was slammed with a suspension. The world seemed to have collapsed on her numerous fans, especially in her homeland Nigeria. With the World Championships looming large, followers of athletics thought the former world champion would not have the opportunity to defend her women’s 100 metres Hurdles title in Budapest.

“I am a clean athlete, and I am regularly; (maybe more than usual) tested by the AIU – I was tested within days of my third ‘missed test.’ I have FAITH that this will be resolved in my favor ,” she insisted and vowed to contest her suspension. She succeeded.

A panel of the Disciplinary Tribunal, by majority decision, found that Tobi Amusan did not commit any Anti-Doping Rule Violation (ADRV) of three Whereabouts Failures within a 12-month period,” the AIU said in a statement.

Although the head of AIU, Brett Clothier indicated that the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) was disappointed by the decision of the Disciplinary Committee, Amusan’s suspension was lifted. But the AIU insisted it will review the reasoning in detail before deciding whether to exercise its right of appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) within the applicable deadline.”

Amusan’s provisional suspension was lifted with immediate effect and that was the first sign of victory for the Nigerian idol.

Against all odds, Amusan appeared in Budapest and did well by navigating her way to the final of the Women’s 100 m Hurdles. Although she won the heats, it was evident that the Nigerian track queen was heavily weighed down by the troubles of the preceding weeks. Indeed, but for her mental strength, it would have been practically impossible to see her compete in Budapest. Yet, in every step she took, one could see that the furore and uncertainties about her participation in the championship had taken a toll on her. During the Heats, her take-off from the blocks was slow and lacked her usual vivacity and agility. Indeed Amusan’s race in the final was pitiful as she placed a distant 6th in a time of 12.56 secs. That was how the Nigerian and world champion surrendered her title in Budapest. The signs were all over her during the heats. The excitement, high spirit and agility she exhibited in the past were missing even when she won her heat and the semifinal.

Deputy Commissioner of Police and Olympic gold medalist, Chioma Ajunwa was full of praise for Tobi after her event Thursday night. “It is not easy to be a world champion,” she began. “Given what she has passed through, she deserves commendation for what she has achieved. The most important thing is that her suspension was lifted for her to be part of the world championships. I give her kudos for that as she defended her title to the last day.”

Ajunwa who won Nigeria’s first and only individual Olympic gold medal in 1996 Olympics advised Tobi to always be alert and proactive so as not to fall foul of any rule in future. “It’s not easy for those people(Athletics Integrity Unit) to let go of anybody. We need to be grateful to God. My joy is that she was part of this world championship. I believe in the next competition, she will be fine.”

Continuing, the former Long Jumper said, “my sincere advice for her is that Tobi has to be very careful. It’s not easy for a Nigerian to be a world champion. The moment you climb up there, they will be looking out for any little infringement by you to bring you down. So she has to be extremely careful. She must make herself available for tests as regularly as possible and always inform them of wherever she is going to and how long she is going to stay there. Doing this will wipe away all doubts about her sincerity. She knows what has happened to other people. She should not be a victim too.”