Tobi Amusan, a Nigerian world record holder and world champion in the 100m hurdles, has recounted how her father set fire to her running gear.
The Nigerian, who finished fourth at both the 2019 World Athletics Championships and the postponed 2020 Tokyo Olympics, has finally etched her name into the track and field record books.
Prior to winning gold in the World Championships final in Oregon, the 25-year-old ran a time of 12.12 seconds, nearly a tenth of a second faster than the previous world record.
However, it seemed as if the odds were stacked against her running career from the start.
“My parents are both teachers, they are strict disciplinarians,” Amusan told BBC Sport Africa.
“When you grow up in such a family, they feel you should focus on school. And being a female, they think you are going to go astray, lose focus and all of that.
“But because my mum saw what I didn’t see [in] myself, she felt she could give me a chance. And she kept telling me not to disappoint her.
“My mum would tell my dad I was going to church while I sneaked to practice or tell him I was going to a school debate while I went to an out-of-state competition. That’s where it all started.
“My dad got really mad one time when he found out [I was running]. He burnt all my training gear and told my mum that’s the last time he wanted to see me in a stadium.”
Several years later, Amusan stood on the top step of the podium at Hayward Field on a historic day for Nigeria, when the country’s national anthem was played at the World Athletics Championships for the first time.
“It has not sunk in yet, maybe the magnitude of what just happened it will hit me later,” she said.
“I go out there and put 100% in every championship and it’s just never enough. Every time it’s a fourth-place finish.
“Then this time my 100% is not only a gold medal but a world record. Trusting myself just made everything easier. I’m thankful to the man above for keeping me healthy. When God says it’s your time, it’s your time.”
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