Tobi Amusan, the WR holder at the Women’s 100m hurdles, is having a tough start to 2023. Deji Ogeyingbo comments on the Nigerian star’s slow start to 2023.

Tobi Amusan: Searching for Her Stride

How often do you see a world record holder in an event come last? It’s a rare sight in the whole of sport, not least Track, and Field, in which athletes who attain such feats rarely show up for their events due to varying reasons. But on Saturday at the Los Angeles Grand Prix, the world record holder in the women’s 100m Hurdles, Tobi Amusan, finished eighth in what was a star-studded race. It felt surreal and strange at the same time. After all, two truths can exist in one place. 

Tobi Amusan destroys 100m hurdle WR, World Athletics Championships
Eugene, Oregon, USA
July 15-26, 2022, photo by Kevin Morris

Amusan has finished 2nd, 4th, and 8th in her last three races over the hurdles, with her best time being 12.59s. And she ran 12.69s. These are terrible numbers for an athlete who only ten months ago broke the world record and became the world champion. To make matters worse, her major rival, Jasmine Camacho-Quinn, won the race in Los Angeles with a new World Lead of 12.31s. You can chalk this stagnation to many things, but there are indications some factors might have put her in this dilemma. 

When an athlete reaches the pinnacle of their sport, as Tobi Amusan did when she broke the world record in Eugene last year, the pressure to maintain that level of excellence can be immense. The weight of expectations from fans, sponsors, and even herself can take a toll on an athlete’s mental and physical well-being. It is possible that the weight of her past success has contributed to Amusan’s recent performance dip. Constantly striving to surpass her own records might have hindered her ability to focus on the present and perform to her full potential.

Tobi Amusan takes the gold medal in the 100m hurdles after setting a WR of 12.12 in the semi-finals! Photo by Kevin Morris

Another crucial factor that may have affected Amusan’s performance this season is the possibility of undisclosed or recurring injuries. Athletic careers are riddled with physical setbacks; even the most exceptional athletes are not immune to them. Minor injuries can disrupt an athlete’s training regimen and hamper their performance. It could explain her slower times if Amusan is nursing an injury or dealing with any physical discomfort. However, without official confirmation, it remains speculative.

Another area worth looking at is technical adjustments. Sometimes, small tweaks in an athlete’s technique can profoundly impact their performance. Coaches and athletes constantly analyze and refine various aspects of their technique to gain a competitive edge. In Amusan’s case, it could be beneficial to scrutinize her form, stride pattern, or hurdle clearance technique. Her coach Lacena Golding-Clarke could make subtle adjustments to these elements in her race which, I turn, could unlock her true potential once again.

Tobi Amusan sets WR of 12.12 in the semi-finals! World Athletics Championships
Eugene, Oregon, USA
July 15-26 2022, by Kevin Morris

Then there is the issue of mental block. Sports, especially at the elite level, demand physical prowess and mental resilience. The psychological aspect of performance should never be underestimated. Amusan may be grappling with a mental block or a lack of self-belief, inhibiting her ability to perform at her best. This is true if you factor in the post she made on Instagram when she talked about the ordeals she faces trying to get her Master’s degree online. The weight of expectations and the fear of failure can manifest in ways that affect an athlete’s confidence. Addressing these psychological barriers through counseling or mental conditioning techniques could help her regain her composure and perform at her previous level.

It is essential for Amusan and her team to approach this phase with patience and perseverance. Rome was not built in a day, and the road to success is rarely a straight path. Adversity can be a catalyst for growth and transformation. By embracing the current setback as an opportunity for learning and improvement, Amusan can emerge stronger and more determined than ever before.

Tobi Amusan, Paris Diamond League, photo by Diamond League AG

The support system surrounding Amusan should rally around her during this challenging period. Encouragement, positivity, and constructive feedback from coaches, teammates, and loved ones can significantly rebuild her confidence. Creating a nurturing environment where she feels supported and empowered to push her limits will be instrumental in helping her regain her form.

Furthermore, it is imperative for Amusan to approach her training with a balanced perspective. While striving for excellence and chasing new records is essential, embracing the journey and finding joy in the process are equally important. Focusing solely on outcomes can lead to added pressure and diminish the enjoyment of the sport. Amusan can tap into her innate talent and unlock her true potential by rekindling her passion and reconnecting with the thrill of competing.

Tobi Amusan, 2022 WA Outdoor Champs, phoot by Kevin Morris

Tobi Amusan’s journey should serve as a reminder that setbacks are an inherent part of any athlete’s career. During these challenging times, true champions rise, armed with determination, resilience, and a willingness to adapt. With the right support system, a commitment to self-improvement, and a positive mindset, Amusan can overcome her current struggles and reclaim her status as number one in the women’s 100m Hurdles.