"Let's show them again..." a cheeky Tobi Amusan blurted in front of the camera after crossing the line to successfully defend her women's 100m Hurdles Commonwealth Games title. Although that statement wasn't cryptic, it was laced with subtle jibes and clearly sending a message to anyone who might have had a doubt.
Amusan not only stormed to a gold medal in Birmingham, but she also broke Brigitte Foster-Hylton’s 16-year-old Games Record (GR) of 12.65s, chalking off more than three-tenths of a second to run a new GR of 12.30s (-0.2). Despite the fact that she ran into a slight headwind, she still ran a very fast time, which is the third fastest time by anyone this season.
The newly crowned world champion exuded confidence coming out for that race: she was laser-focused on the prize. But on taking the first three barriers, one would forgive her fans if they feared for the worst, because she wasn’t in it then. She turned it around, closed the gap, and then took the lead to pull way ahead for a daylight win.
Tobi was so good that her time was almost three-tenths of a second faster than her closest challenger, Devynne Charlton, who finished second in 12.58s and Cindy Sember, third in 12.59s. Like Rob Walker (commentator) summed it up, 'Tobi Amusan has simply forgotten how to lose.' It was a majestic performance from the 25-year-old, making her the only world champion from Eugene to win the Commonwealth Games title in Birmingham.
Less than two hours after her 100m Hurdles triumph, Amusan was drafted into the Nigerian 4x100m relay team, and her inclusion made a whole lot of difference, running the lead leg in the quartet comprising: herself, Favour Ofili, Rosemary Chukwuma and Grace Nwokocha.
Nigeria had not won a gold medal in the women's 4x100m since the 1994 Games in Victoria, BC Canada, when Faith Idehen, Mary Tombiri, Christy Opara-Thompson and Mary Onyali ran 42.99s to win gold. Twenty-eight years later, Nigeria has now won the title again.
The Nigerian men's team was not left out of the act, as they won the country's first medal in 32 years from the men's 4x100m, ending a long drought that stretched back to when Victor Nwankwo, Davidson Ezinwa, Osmond Ezinwa and Abdullahi Tetengi ran 38.85s to win Bronze in Auckland in 1990.
Udodi Onwuzuruike replaced Seye Ogunlewe, starting the first leg in the men's 4x100m, while Raymond Ekevwo was moved to the anchor leg this time, leaving Favour Ashe and Alaba Akintola to maintain their running orders from the heat. The Nigerian team brought home the baton in a time of 38.81s.
If there was any athlete Nigerian could call on anytime for a medal, and the person would take the call, it would be Ese Brume. Since 2019, Brume has never missed out on the podium of any international championship in which she represented Nigeria.
The African record holder delivered yet again for her country, reclaiming the Long Jump title that she won eight years ago on her breakout season in Glasgow. She might have jumped 7.00m on the nose on her very last attempt, but it was academic as she had already confirmed the gold medal.
Brume had an unassailable lead of 6.99m on her second attempt, surpassing Bronwyn Thompson’s Games record of 6.97m. In fact, Brume's sequence was so impressive that four of her jumps would have been good enough to win her the title.
Her gold medal catapulted Nigeria to 12 gold medals overall, the highest tally Nigeria has ever won at the Commonwealth Games. Prior to Birmingham, Team Nigeria had never won more than 11 gold medals, which they had done three times, but Brume's win helped shoot up the green and white to its highest-ever tally of 12 gold medals.
Olympic Bronze medallist, World Championship Silver and Bronze medallist, now a two-time Commonwealth Games champion, Brume has won it all. She will surely be inspiring a lot of young girls back home who will grow up wanting to be like her.
For Team Ghana, they might not have had the kind of outing they would have wanted in the men's 4x100m, suffering a disqualification in the heats, but they surely had something to cheer about leaving Birmingham. Joseph Paul Amoah had the Ghanaian fans buzzing after he won their individual track medal in the men's 200m.
Amoah had to withdraw from the 100m event to solely focus on the 200m, and it paid off as he ran three solid rounds, winning the bronze medal in 20.49s. Benjamin Azamati came inches away from winning a medal in the men's 100m, narrowly missing out on a bronze medal and finishing fourth.
Perhaps the most impressive Ghanaian outing has to be that of Deborah Acquah, who jumped a new National Record of 6.94m on her first attempt, which she held on to for Bronze. Acquah faced an uphill task arriving in Birmingham because of visa issues, and only arriving on the day of the qualification round. She went straight into action, qualified for the final and made the best use of it.
Cameroon's Emmanuel Eseme had to change his coach and it was a decision that really paid off, even though he had to force his way out. Eseme ran solid rounds, making the final of the 200m, and finishing fourth in a season's best of 20.68s. His former coach might not be happy that he left, but since the African championships in Mauritius, Eseme has won silver and came close to winning a medal in Birmingham.
In the women's 200m, a visibly fatigued Favour Ofili ran the race of her life, holding off Christine Mboma to win the silver medal, finishing second behind Elain Thompson-Herah. Ofili had competed in 64 races overall, but this medal would mean so much to her, as it is her first individual medal at a major championship.