Sprint hurdler Tobiloba Amusan will be seeking to become the first Nigerian athlete, dead or alive, to be crowned champion at all levels of athletics in the same yeara as she bids to successfully defend the Commonwealth Games title she won four years ago in Gold Coast, Australia.
The petite, 25-year-old ran a wind-aided 12.40 seconds to qualify for the final of the 100m hurdles scheduled to hold on Sunday at the Alexander Stadium in Birmingham.
A win on Sunday will make Amusan the first and only Nigerian to be crowned African, Commonwealth and World Champion in the same year.
In June, the World Athletics Diamond League Trophy winner successfully defended her African Championships title, storming to a wind-aided 12.57 seconds, the fastest time in all conditions in the event’s history at the championships.
The Nigerian followed up with a historic feat. She won the 100m hurdles title at the World Athletics Championships in Oregon, USA to become the first Nigerian to becrowned a world champion at World Athletics’ flagship event, the World Athletics Championships.
Amusan did that in record-breaking fashion, running a new 12.12 seconds world record to become the first Nigerian track and field star to set a world record.
On Sunday, the Nigerian will be seeking her treble and a special place in Nigerian athletics history.
Amusan will not only become the first Nigerian track and field athlete to successfully defend a Commonwealth Games title if she wins, but she will also become the secondw oman in the competition to do so after Australia’s Sally Pearson (2010 and 2014).
Quartermiler Fatimah Yusuf remains the closest Nigerian athlete to successfully defend a Commonwealth Games track and field medal. She won the 400m title in 1990 butw as denied a successful defence four years later in Victoria, Canada by Australian Cathy Freeman.
Before that, the duo of Emmanuel Ifeajuna and Modupe Oshikoya could not defend the titles they won in 1954 and 1974 respectively.
While Ifeajuna who won Nigeria’s first gold at the Games was not in Cardiff, Wales in 1958 to defend the high jump gold he won four years earlier in Vancouver, Canada, Nigeria’s boycott of the 1978 Commonwealth Games in protest against the apartheid regime in South Africa prevented Oshikoya from defending the long jump gold she won in 1974 in Christchurch, New Zealand.
Yusuf Alli was not in Victoria, Canada to defend the long jump gold he won in Auckland in 1990, with Obinna Eregbu succeeding him as Commonwealth Games champion.
Former African queen of the track, Mary Onyali could also not defend the 100m gold she won in 1994 four years later partly due to Nigeria’s suspension by the Commonwealth Games Federation and procreation as she gave birth to her first child a few months earlier.
Ese Brume was missing at the Gold Coast in 2018 and was thus unable to defend the long jump title she won in 2014 in Glasgow while Blessing Okagbare was also missing there to defend the historic sprint double she won four years earlier.
Dare Esan in Birmingham
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