The Squirrel-Feet, the Super Shoes and the Zone Awareness: Tobi Amusan Hacks the Wind Again in Birmingham

The Squirrel-Feet, the Super Shoes and the Zone Awareness: Tobi Amusan Hacks the Wind Again in Birmingham

The 2022 Commonwealth Games was scheduled to be held for 11 days from Thursday, 28 July to Monday 8 August at Birmingham City in the West Midlands of the United Kingdom. The competition had promised a different experience than the previous tournament hosted in the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia in 2018. Since the previous campaign, the world has morphed into a new normal due to the across-the-board impact of the sudden Covid19 pandemic. Like other facets of the nations’ wealth that drive the global economy, tourism and sport-travel are still recovering gamely from the Covid19 shock.

An estimated 30,000 spectators were received at the Alexander Arena for the Birmingham 2022 opening ceremony which is a five-thousand shortfall in attendance compared to the 2018 Gold Coast’s unveiling concert at the Carrara stadium. However, more than 1.3million tickets were reportedly sold out at this year’s Games compared to 1.06million ticket sales that were recorded in 2018.

The UK Government earlier declared “Birmingham 2022 boasts the biggest sporting and para-sport programme and more medals for women than men for the first time ever at a major multi-sport event”. Backed by £778million public investment, Birmingham 2022 is considered the most significant investment in a major sporting event since the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. “It will leave lasting legacy for people of Birmingham and West Midlands” Boris Johnson, the UK prime minister said at the opening ceremony.

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However, for the hundreds of thousands of spectators that have endeavoured to follow the tournament globally and to the letter, what conjured memories and moments of social delight wasn’t the high budget platform sponsored from the coffers of the British Government but the gracing of the platform with the beautiful renditions of 6,500 athletes from 72 nations that featured at different events of the Games.

Tobi Amusan has been in the spotlight since she won herself a gold medal with an outstanding performance that clocked 12.68s at the 100m women hurdles finals in the 2018 Campaign. The then 22-year-old Nigerian hurdler has recently updated her records at 25 after hitting 12.12s and 12.06s respectively in the semis and the finals of the women’s 100m hurdles at Eugene Oregon’s 2022 world championships that wrapped up a few weeks ago.

Amusan’s 12.12s clean sweep broke America’s Kendra Harrison’s six-year-old record of 12.20s in London and transitioned her to a 12.06s consummative victory which made her the first Nigerian athlete ever to win a world title at the World Athletics Championships. Her victory did not fail to inspire controversial thoughts from pundits as expected of any great feat. While Nigerians were still celebrating their heroine’s exploit on the international stage, Sean Ingle, the Guardian sport analyst, wrote that Amusan’s exploit was powered by Adidas’ latest super shoes, Adizero Avanti which is billed to aid field and hurdles athletes specifically. The British Journalist wrote as thus:

Nigeria’s Tobi Amusan reignited the debate about track and fields new super shoes as she unexpectedly shattered the 100m hurdles world record in Eugene.

Immediately after the race, the former world 200m and 400m record holder, Michael Johnson, wondered whether the timing system at Hayward Field was off. He was far from alone. However it transpired that Amusan had been given a boost by using Adidas Adizero Avanti shoes, which are designed for 5km and 10km runners, rather than track spikes.

Expectedly, Ingles opinion article could not elude criticisms by thousands of Amusan’s diehards who wondered if the admirable antecedents of the Nigerian had all been orchestrated by some super shoes. The Nigerian windsprinter had also excelled in her field at the 2021 Diamond League, Zurich which made her the first African to do so and to incidentally break the then African record held by Glory Alozie. The proverbial African and world champion have won gold medals back-to-back from 2018 to 2022, distinguishing her capability far from a flash in the pan.

“My abilities are not centered around spikes” said Tobi Amusan who disclosed that the shoes were recommended to her while she consulted with Adidas after she had Patella facilities at the beginning of the season which made her feel down for a while. The world championship record was a moment she’d braced herself to witness a long while ago.

Thus, many Nigerians, Africans and even non-Africans were primed to look out for the Nigerian born sprint hurdler at the 2022 Commonwealth Games’ women 100m hurdles where she’s expected to falsify the conspiracy theory and retain her defending champion title. Finishing first in the Round 1 heat 3 of the 100m hurdles at 12.40s ahead of Australia’s Mitchell Jenneke and Canada’s Mitchell Harrison who finished in second and third positions with 12.63s and 12.85s respectively, Amusan qualified to the finals where she again defended her Commonwealth title with her squirrel-feet sprint much to the delight of the thousands of her fans. In the finals, Amusan aced with 12.30s emerging as the first world champion to win a gold medal at the event and the first Nigerian athlete ever to be crowned champion at all levels of athletics within the same year.

Tobi Amusan’s story encapsulates the flow or zone moment referenced by Daniel Goleman in his bestseller, Emotional Intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ. The American psychologist and retired science journalist described flow as a compelling moment of grace and bewilderment inspired from the unconscious intelligence and energy which is activated by a repetitive labor targeted at mastery — a line of thought Goleman usually premised on Malcolm Gladwell’s 10000 hours’ theory. Also, Stephen Pressfield in his War of Art, described the zone from an idealist perspective, saying it is when muse overwhelms the individual, but muse cannot activate itself in the untalented or the undisciplined.

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