Kehinde Amusan, father of a hurdler and world champion, Tobi, has explained why he tried stopping her from a career in athletics.
Amusan told The Punch, that he feared for Tobi ending up like many other Nigerian athletes who struggle to make ends meet despite their immense talent.
He said: “In the beginning, I didn’t really support her, though her mother took to sports during her school days. She was an athlete as well, while I’m a football lover. I played football, but I think she took after the interest we had in sports, particularly athletics, due to her mother’s interest.
“You know, parents will always want their children to stay focused on education because of the manner in which sports are administered in Nigeria. With that in mind, we initially didn’t support her because we believed someone who was good in the sciences should become either a doctor or a nurse and not a sportsperson.
“But along the line, when some people saw that she had talent, they took interest in her. In the end, we supported her and as God would have it, when we saw that she had the talent, as given to her by God, we decided to leave it all to God and now, here is the success story”.
“When I said I wanted her to face her education, it was because we knew what sports in Nigeria was at that time and we didn’t know what she would gain from being an athlete or going after games, instead of facing her education. At that point, I didn’t know she had been going for training because each time I asked her mother about her whereabouts, her response was always ‘I’m sorry, I ought to have told you, she left for the church, and at that time she was part of the choir.
” Subsequently, when I was not too convinced, I decided to monitor her, and interestingly, I found out that she used to go to the stadium for training and I said ‘No, that is not my plan for you.’ I wanted her to be focused on education. You can’t do two things at the same time. It’s either you focus on education or you focus on sports, but as a father, I didn’t want her to go into sports. I told her, ‘Focus on what you said you wanted to study, which is medicine.’ At the end of it, when I got to know that she was more interested in sports than what I wanted her to do, I took two of her training kits and burnt them. I wanted to discourage her from going into sports. She screamed, ‘Ha, Daddy, you burnt my clothes.’ And I told her I wanted her to be focused on what I wanted her to be. But when people came and intervened; that I should allow her to continue focusing on her God-given talent, I said no problem. Since then, I gave her all the support I could and even encouraged her to go for training”, he further disclosed.
The senior Amusan also disclosed how his family cerebrated Tobi’s record-breaking run.
“I celebrated her victory in my own little way. You know how Nigerians are, so many family friends and neighbours came around that early morning to join us in the celebration. We prayed, sang and gave all the glory to Almighty God. Our well-wishers also came around to share in our joy”, he said.
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