Reigning African and Commonwealth Games 100m hurdles champion, Tobiloba Amusan on Thursday became the first Nigerian athlete to be crowned Diamond League winner at the Weltklasse in Zurich, Switzerland.
The 24-year-old sprint hurdler who raced to a new African record of 12.42secs held by another former Nigerian hurdler, Glory Alozie since 1998, won the event’s $30,000 (about N15million) top cash prize.
She defeated Dutch athlete, Visser Nadine (12.51) and Jamaica’s Tapper Megan who finished third in 12.55.
The win for Amusan in the 2021 Diamond League has compensated for her inability to make the podium at the Tokyo Olympic where she finished fourth.
Overall, she is the second Nigerian to win a World Athletics elite one-day meetings discipline after Falilat Ogukoya who was crowned the 400m champion at the Grand Pix final held in Moscow, Russia in 1998.
Speaking shortly after the win in Switzerland, Amusan said she was determined to make up for her inability to make the podium in Tokyo and feels happy to have made history.
”It’s great, it is a great feeling. Looking back, I did not win a medal at the Olympics. It was a very challenging time for me afterwards, but I never gave up, and I came out here and I was like… if I did not get a medal in Tokyo, the least I can do is to get a Diamond League Trophy – I did just that!
“The hurdles is a very mental event. and my coach is always telling me I need to focus on myself and execute. Once you execute, you don’t have a problem going over the hurdles. I’m glad I came out with a win. I have one more meeting in Zagreb, and I can go take the season off. I am really looking forward to it,” gushed the petit hurdler.
Amusan’s 12.42 seconds is two hundreths of a second faster than the 12.44 seconds Glory Alozie ran in Monaco in 1998 and the reigning African champion has now broken two of the three Nigerian and African records held by Alozie.
She smashed Alozie’s 12.74 seconds African Games record twice two years ago in Rabat, Morocco, running 12.69 in the semifinal heat before improving by one hundreth of a second to 12.68 seconds.
Last year in Karlsruhe, Germany Amusan went close to breaking the 7.82 seconds 60m hurdles indoor record held by Alozie when she stormed to a 7.84 seconds to win at the World Indoor Tour event.
Amusan would also have broken the Nigerian championships 100m hurdles record of 12.63 seconds held by Angela Atede if the electronic timer had not malfunctioned at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Trials at the Yaba College of Technology Sports Ground in Lagos last June. She was credited with a hand-timed 12.3 for her effort.