By Dare Esan:
Sprint hurdler Tobi Amusan is expected to land in Bydgoszcz, Poland on Monday for the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Junior Championships which begin on Tuesday.
The Nigerian, touted as the favourite to win the country’s first ever gold in the 100m hurdles at the championships, was expected to leave her base in Texas, USA Sunday for Poland.
She is coming to the championships with three of the six fastest times in the world this year.
The reigning All Africa Games queen will begin her title quest on July 22 and athletics watchers believe if she goes under 12.83 in Poland she will have the world junior record and the gold.
This her coach at University of Texas in El Paso (UTEP) Lacena Golding-Clarke believes she’s ready to accomplish.
“She can run 12.7,” Golding-Clarke who will be in Poland with her husband, UTEP assistant Davian Clarke, told the El Paso Times.
“She ran a 12.79 (wind-aided) at the NCAAs and I think she can do a wind-legal 12.7. We ran a time trial a week ago and she was at 12.71, so if everything goes well, 12.7 or at least 12.8. No one has run 12.7 to win it before.”
A gold for Amusan will make her surpass the silver medal feat accomplished by Glory Alozie in 1996 in Sydney. Alozie ran 13.30 seconds to win the silver medal behind USA’s Joyce Bates who ran 13.27 seconds for gold.
Is Amusan then fixing her sights on becoming world junior champion?
The Nigerian, according to El Paso Times, is taking a rather tradition approach of just concentrating on the hurdle in front of her and letting the stopwatch grade her afterwards.
“I’m not going to pressure myself, I just want to do my thing and let God do the rest,” said Amusan. “I just want to do my best and enjoy the moment. If I
run my best the time will show.”
Thirteen athletes will represent Nigeria at the bieenial championships.
Nigeria’s best moments at the championships came at the third edition in Plovdiv, Bulgaria in 1990 when the Davidson Ezinwa-inspired team returned home with six medals made up of two gold, two silver and two bronze medals while in 1996 Francis Obikwelu (now competing for Portugal) successfully completed a sprints double in Sydney ,Australia.
Nigeria has won a total of 30 medals at the championships made up of 10 gold, 13 silver and seven bronze medals.