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Okowa Salutes Amusan, Says It’s A New Dawn For Athletics

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Athletics Federation of Nigeria president Tonobock Okowa says Tobi Amusan’s historic feat at the Diamond League final in Zurich last Thursday is the perfect way to close what has been a glorious year for Nigerian track and field.

Amusan made history as the first Nigerian, man or woman to be crowned Diamond League champion after winning the 100m hurdles race at the Weltklasse Diamond League meeting in Zurich .  

 The 24 year old also set a new 12.42 seconds African record in addition to winning the USD 30,000 top prize money and securing qualification for the World Athletics Championships in Oregon,USA next year.

  ‘Tobi has proved she is one of the best sprint hurdlers in the world and has made up for not making the podium at the Tokyo Olympics,’ said Okowa who has personally congratulated the reigning African and Commonwealth 100m hurdles queen.                        

“Tobi’s feat is a continuation of the positive developments we have been seeing in track and field since the start of the year and, on behalf of the executive board of the AFN, I want to sincerely thank the Sports Minister, Sunday Dare for his huge support our federation received during the crisis that engulfed the last board since 2017.

“He ensured the athletes didn’t lack competition since he was appointed by Mr President in 2019 and the results have been phenomenal,’ added Okowa.

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The AFN president says his board is building on the solid foundation the Sports Minister laid. ‘For the first in 13 years we achieved our best performance at the Olympics by winning a medal and getting as many as four athletes to qualify for the finals of their respective events at the Tokyo Olympics.        

“We also achieved our best ever performance at the World U-20 Athletics Championships, winning an unprecedented four gold in an equally unprecedented seven medals haul.                            

“Now Tobi has written a new script at World Athletics elite one day meetings 21 years after Falilat Ogunkoya was crowned the 400m Golden League champion.”

Okowa assures what has happened in the last two months is a signal there is a new dawn for track and field in Nigeria.               

“We are challenged, more than ever to ensure a rapid and effective development of the sport and very soon we will roll out our programme for next year. It will be geared towards consolidating on our achievements this year and having our best ever performance at both the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham and the World Athletics Championships in Oregon next year.                       

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 “We can’t afford to go below the standards we have set this year and welfare of our athletes and coaches will be at the centre of our plans.’

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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