Updated 3 August 2008
Olusoji Adetokunbo FASUBA, Nigeria (100m)
Born 9 July 1984
Grew up in Sapele, Delta State, South Nigeria.
Attended International Junior Primary School and Merit More Secondary School, both in Sapele.
Eldest of three children. Father a civil servant, mother a housewife. She is Jamaican, cousin of 1976 Olympic 200m champion Don Quarrie.
Wife is Ngozi Nwokocha, a 400m athlete
One of the few Nigerian sprinters who did not progress through the country’s age-grade ranks, Olusoji Fasuba, was nevertheless a champion in his teenage years. He gained a scholarship to Merit More Secondary School, in Sapele, because of his running. And, unlike most young Nigerians, who steal time to run or play football on the streets, Fasuba received strong backing from his parents.
Fasuba’s mother was a sprinter growing up in Jamaica, a cousin of Don Quarrie. She encouraged him to keep up his running even in the face of challenging studies at the respected Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) in Ile-Ife, south-west Nigeria. “Those were difficult times for me,” he says. “But I have always been encouraged by what my mother once said: ‘Quitters never win.’ So I had to dump school for athletics and, looking back now, I think I have made the best decision.”
Fasuba was convinced that his future would be on the track and never once did he think of playing football, volleyball or basketball, although he was his school captain in all four sports. “I will call myself a Jack Of All Trades,” he says. “But I enjoy athletics more, and I was always the fastest. In fact, while I was in primary school, secondary schools around Sapele used to use me as a mercenary to run for them.”
Fasuba came to national prominence in Nigeria in October 2003, when he ran a 10.15 PB to win the 100m title at the inaugural Afro-Asian Games in Hyderabad. He had, however, made himself known as a rising star two months earlier. On 18 August, in Germany, he ran 10.29, which persuaded officials to give him the starting role in Nigeria’s 4x100m relay team at the World Championships, in Paris, and at the All Africa Games, in Abuja, even though he had finished only 6th at the national trials the preceding month. The team finished 4th in Paris (missing a medal by 0.02 seconds) and 2nd in Abuja.
In 2004, Fasuba began the year with a 6.50 PB for 60m indoors, in Chemnitz, Germany, the third fastest time in the world that year and the second fastest 60m ever run by a Nigerian indoors. Unfortunately, he injured himself the following day in Liévin and did not recover in time for the World Indoor Championships, in Budapest, where he crashed out in the first round (6.78).
Outdoors Fasuba improved his 100m PB to 10.09 in the national championships Semi-Final (the time put him at No.12 on the Nigerian all-time list), but he came up short in the Final, finishing 3rd (10.19), albeit showing a marked improvement on his 6th the year before. He had better luck in the African Championships, in Brazzaville, a few days later, taking gold in 10.21. In his first Olympics, in Athens, he contributed to the Nigerian 4x100m quartet’s bronze medal (38.23).
After the Olympics, Fasuba put out a call through the IAAF Forums to find a coach, which was answered by a young Frenchman, Pierre-Jean Vazel. Describing his athlete, Vazel emphasised his physical potential and aptitude for assimilating instructions, attributes which Fasuba himself has never had any doubts over. He is convinced that his Nigerian/Jamaican parentage predisposes him to be a good sprinter.
Fasuba began the 2005 season as he had 2004, with a blazing 60m victory in Chemnitz (6.51, 4th fastest of the year). At Nigeria’s national championships, however, he finished 2nd (10.14) to Uchenna Emedolu. He reached the Semi-Finals at the World Championships, in Helsinki, finishing 5th in his heat (10.18) behind his former countryman, Francis Obikwelu, now of Portugal. In the 200m he was eliminated in the Quarter-Finals, placing 8th (21.92/-3.7mps).
In his preparation for 2006, Fasuba added easy weightlifting sessions to his training regimen and he was soon in shape, winning the national trials, in Abuja, on 11 February (10.13). But visa troubles made him miss several indoor meetings and he was short of competition come the World Indoor Championships, in Moscow, where he finished 5th in the 60m, his first individual global final (6.58).
Despite the tight schedule for overcoming jetlag, Fasuba headed from Moscow for the Commonwealth Games, in Melbourne. Leading at mid-race in the Final, he finished 2nd (10.11) behind Jamaica's World record holder, Asafa Powell (10.03).
Back in Nigeria, Fasuba sustained a hamstring injury due to difficult training conditions. Unwilling to withdraw from Abuja's African meet on 6 May, he decided to take it easy, but surprised himself with a time of 10.26. Six days later Fasuba made a sensational breakthrough, improving his personal best to 9.92 then 9.85 (African record) in Doha, only to be defeated by Justin Gatlin's scorching finish (Gatlin equalled Powell’s World record of 9.77 but the performance was subsequently annulled for a drugs offence).
Since this, the Nigerian sprinter has not been able to find the fine tuning that allowed him to break the 10 second barrier in Doha. Four days later he suffered an insect bite in Nigeria, causing an infection that weakened him for some time. His best times since then were recorded in Lausanne (10.09) and Rome (10.12) on 11 and 14 July.
The poor wind conditions at the African Championships, in Mauritius, precluded fast times and Fasuba just went to retain his African title and clinch his selection for the World Cup in Athens. Based in Athens since June 2006, Fasuba would not have had far to travel to the World Cup stadium but, sadly, he was late withdrawal due to a hamstring injury.
Fasuba enjoyed a successful 2007 indoor 60m season, dipping five times under 6.60 and setting a PB 6.49, the world’s second quickest of the year. But his summer record has been inconsistent. Following a good opening in Dakar (10.17) and Abuja (10.16), he went through a period of doubt following his victory in the national championships on 19 May (10.32/-3mps). Between mid-May and mid-July, he competed only twice, with below par results. But he bounced back to win the All Africa Games 100m in Algiers (10.18) and anchor Nigeria to gold in the 4x100m.
Not tipped as a major contender prior to the 2007 World Championships in Osaka, Fasuba pulled through quite well, qualifying for an outdoor World Final for the first time, before producing a season’s best of 10.07 for credible 4th behind medallists Tyson Gay, Derrick Atkins and Asafa Powell. But he didn’t have any significant results in one-day meets later in the season.
An indoor specialist, Fasuba headed for the 2008 World Indoor Championships, in Valencia, as a key contender, having recorded the season’s World best performance for 60m (6.51) there on 9 February. Withstanding pressure and calves cramps in the final stages, he managed to clinch his first title in a global championship, equalling his season’s best twice, in the Semi-Final and the Final.
Following his World title in Valencia on 7 March, Fasuba did not have much time to rest as the African Championships followed just seven weeks later. Heading into Addis Ababa as indisputable favourite, the Nigerian managed to add another continental title to his tally in 10.10, despite suffering from the effects of high altitude.
After peaking twice early on in the season, Fasuba has had difficulties getting back his rhythm. Two months after confirming his African crown, his supremacy was surprisingly contested twice by young guns at home. At the Abuja AAC meeting, on 23 June, he finished second to Adetoyi Durotoye (10.18 against 10.14). One week later, he was edged by one hundredth of second by Obinna Metu at the National Championships (10.18 to 10.17) after setting the best time of the competition in Semi-Final (10.14).
Will his experience of major competition be enough to enable Fasuba to bounce back at the Olympics?
60m (indoors): 6.49 (2007)
100m: 9.85 (2006)
(60/100/200): 2003: - /10.15/ -; 2004: 6.50 / 10.09 / 20.52; 2005: 6.51 / 10.09A / 20.60; 2006: 6.55 / 9.85; 2007: 6.49 / 10.07; 2008: 6.51/10.10A
2003 1st Afro Asian Games (10.15)
2004 1st African Championships (10.21)
2004 3rd Olympic Games, 4x100m
2005 5th World Indoor Championships (6.58)
2006 2nd Commonwealth Games (10.11)
2006 1st African Championships (10.37)
2007 1st All Africa Games (10.18)
2007 4th World Championships (10.07)
2008 1st World Indoor Championships (6.51)
2008 1st African Championships (10.10A)
Prepared by Carole Fuchs and Dare Esan for the IAAF ‘Focus on Athletes’ project. © IAAF 2006-2008.