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Retired athletics coach Alaba Ogunde discuss how she discovered world champion Tobi Amusan

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Alaba Ogunde, a retired athletics coach, exclusively revealed to The PUNCH how she discovered Commonwealth Games and world champion Tobi Amusan.

At the 2022 World Championships in Oregon, US, Tobi Amusan stunned the world with a remarkable semifinal time of 12.12 seconds, shattering Kendra Harrison’s 2016 effort by 0.08 seconds, and she drove social media into a frenzy. Although she ran quicker in the final, the unlawful tailwind caused her 12.06-second time to be disqualified.

She added another gold medal to her outstanding 2022 campaign at the recently finished Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

She broke the Games record on Sunday morning at the Alexander Stadium in Birmingham, clocking a meteor storm 12.30 seconds.

The Ijebu-Ode-born runner also motivated the Nigerian relay team to win their first-ever gold medal at the Commonwealth Games in the women’s 4×100.

The 68-year-old Alaba Ogunde, who was then a staff member of the Ogun State Sports Council, claimed to have discovered Amusan when she was posted to Ijebu Ode in 2005, contradicting media reports citing a coach who claimed to have discovered the 25-year-old athlete.

Alaba Ogunde told The PUNCH, “I saw several reports that Tobi was discovered by someone else, but I want to be clear that I was the one who discovered her.”

I moved from the Abeokuta headquarters to the Ijebu Ode Sports Council in 2004. I was required to cover every area, including the rural and metropolitan areas, and I used to go to practically every school.

Moving around allowed me to find many new skills, and Tobi was one among them. I also learned about Omotola Kuku, Biola Onakoya, a 400-meter runner who served as Tobi’s mentor, and many other people.

“It’s true that one person cannot effectively train a youngster, but I was the one who saw Tobi Amusan’s potential as a future champion.

“She was a student at Our Ladies of Apostle in Ijebu Ode, and Dr. Adetoye Alatise, who is now the Oba of Ososa Ijebu, funded our program for the development of youthful talents. The Games Master at the time was Adeyemi, but I can’t recall his other name.

“It was part of my success narrative that my team won the U-15 athletics competition in Ogun State twice in a row before being ousted by Ilaro and Tobi.

Ogunde continued, “I was the main athletics coach in Ijebu Ode back then, and I had a lot of people around me and a lot of duties. We had trials, inter-house competitions, and numerous other activities, so I had to delegate the monitoring to Charlie Baba, one of the trainers. Back then, he was Ayodele Solaja’s apprentice.

“He was the one who proposed that we combine them all with the athletes under Solaja, and Tobi was excellent in the 100- and 200-meter runs, as well as the high and long jumps. As we witnessed with Chioma Ajunwa, anyone who excels in all of these areas may participate in the 100-meter hurdles with ease.

“Before she even met Solaja, the mentoring already existed, but he continued to support their growth.”


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