Nigerians, including three presidential candidates, basked in the glory of the country’s first world athletics gold medal, welcoming a respite from bad news about economic hardships and deepening insecurity.
Tobi Amusan, 25, won gold in the women’s 100m hurdles on Sunday in the World Athletics Championships after breaking the world record in a semi-final where she clocked 12.12sec in Eugene, Oregon.
Her winning time of 12.06sec in the final will not be recognised as a world record, however, due to regulations over a strong tailwinds assisting runners.
President Muhammadu Buhari praised the “outstanding feat by a compatriot and two-time African Games champion, who in one night stunned the athletics world with her superlative and stellar performance”.
He said Amusan’s feat would inspire upcoming generations of Nigerian athletes.
Buhari, who came to power in 2015, will step down after next year’s presidential elections.
The three main challengers in the February ballot also hailed Amusan’s success as well as that of Nigeria’s Ese Brume who won silver medal in the long jump.
Atiku Abubakar of the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said he was “particularly proud of this feat… it underscores my plan to refocus investments in sports, and creative sectors, amongst others.”
Peter Obi of the Labour Party said the athletes’ feats showed Nigeria was “a great country blessed with talents ready to rule the world.”
Ordinary Nigerians also showed their appreciation.
“She has done it for us, Tobi Amusan, you have written your name boldly in our history and posterity will be kind to you. Thank you, Nigeria is proud of you!!!” said Enetomhe Stephen on social media.
Praise for the athletes comes as Nigeria is struggling with high inflation and unemployment as well as power outages and jihadist and gang attacks, including killings and kidnappings for ransom.
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