By Gideon Adonai
Tobi Amusan has been verified by Twitter a day after she became a world record holder and a world champion in the 100m hurdles.
In November 2016, she had tweeted that she was unknown but promised her followers that she would soon become unforgettable.
Unknown now , but 🔜 I will be UNFORGETTABLE … I will Persist untill I SUCCEED ….🌎🌟📌
— Oluwatobiloba Amusan, OLY (@Evaglobal01) November 8, 2016
That message has remained pinned to the top of her social media profile and provides a summary of her rise to glory in Eugene.
Few years later, Amusan becomes a fourth-placed finisher at both the 2019 World Athletics Championships and the delayed 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The Nigerian’s persistence has finally seen her engrave her name into the track and field record books.
The 25-year-old ran a time of 12.12 seconds – shaving almost a tenth of a second off the previous world record – in the semi-finals of the World Championships in Oregon before going on to win gold in the final.
She had to overcome doubts from officials in Nigerian athletics before picking up her first senior hurdles title at the African Games in Congo-Brazzaville in 2015.
“The typical Nigerian approach is to make you feel like you cannot make it,” she said, speaking to BBC.
“I wasn’t expected to medal at those Games. There were so many voices saying I couldn’t but I used that to show that I could – and that title changed my life.
“That’s how I got a scholarships to the United States. I can say that’s really when my athletics career began. I never dreamt of going to the United States. I just wanted to run fast and be one of the Nigerian greats.”
Since moving to attend the University of Texas, El Paso, Amusan has not looked back.
She won gold in the 100m hurdles at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia, and later the same year took her first African Championships title on home soil in Asaba.
Yet at major global events, she would agonisingly miss out on medals – finishing fourth at the World Championships in Doha three years ago and then again in Tokyo last year.
“2019 was tough because I remember running the fastest time in the qualification rounds, around the same time in the semi-finals and the same time in the final,” she said.
“I ran so fast but wasn’t fast enough to get a medal. I was broken, I was devastated. That was one of the most horrible experiences.
“I moved on, and then came the Tokyo Olympics. Things just crumbled a month before when I strained my hamstring at practice.”
She has constant support from her mother, but her father has remained unfazed by her exploits.
“Honesty, he still doesn’t support me doing track,” she said.
“He just feels like there’s more to life than running around. Every time I call him when I’m at a competition he just says ‘Okay, do your best, God will help you’ and that’s it.”
The newly-minted world champion and record holder – who also picked up a cheque for $100,000 for her blistering showing in Oregon – will now defend her Commonwealth gold in Birmingham.