Tobi Amusan, who on Monday became the first-ever Nigerian athletics world champion and record holder, was honored at a rally by hundreds of young people and women in Ijebu Ode, Ogun State.
In the semi-finals of the World Championships in Oregon, USA, Ijebu Ode-born Amusan, 25, ran a time of 12.12 seconds, nearly a tenth of a second faster than the previous world record held by American Keni Harrison (12.20 seconds), before going on to win gold in the final at the Hayward Field stadium.
Adeeko Lateef, Registrar of Our Lady of Apostles Secondary School in Ijebu Ode, reported that Amusan’s former training comrades joined the school’s students on Monday to chant the national anthem before their National Examination Council tests.
The rally took place in front of the school’s roundabout.
“Tobi’s (Amusan) feat put the school’s name on the global map of the world,” Lateef said.
“She finished from the school in 2011 and was part of our relay team back then. She was a quiet girl who always kept to herself but on Monday we had to join the rest of the town in celebrating her feat.
“All the students see her as an inspiration because as small as she was back then, nobody gave her a chance to succeed, but she defied the struggles to excel.”
Adigun Kemisola, a small-time vendor at the Dipo Dina Stadium, claimed that Amusan’s triumph transformed the atmosphere there and that the vendors profited from it to do brisk business.
“She (Amusan) is fondly called ‘shanko’ because of her stature, but she always gave her best each time she came to train here. The entire Ijebu Ode has been in festive mood, her pictures were carried around the stadium and some of the traders who know her closely posted her picture at the doorway of their shops to attract customers.”
The gathering, according to boxing coach Oladayo Adefisoye, was organized to make sure the Ogun State Government and the Federal Government honored Amusan appropriately.
“She deserves more than a MON award. We all saw how Laycon, who won the 2020 Big Brother Naija Lockdown edition, was rewarded with cash and awarded honours by the Ogun State Government,” Adefisoye told The PUNCH.
“She was the smallest in training but the most active. I have never been this proud as an Ijebu Ode man because I was part of the coaches who ensured that she stayed focused on her training, alongside coach Ayodele Solaja.” Solaja, who said he scouted Amusan from OLASS in 2009, told The PUNCH, “I have an academy where I train young athletes in Ijebu Ode and for two years I never noticed her, until she won her inter-house sports race in 2009. It was at that point I started noticing her and focusing on her.
“This was an athlete who started out as a footballer, but because of her small stature, she switched to sprint and there was her glory,” Solaja added.