World Champs Women’s 100H — 12.12 & 12.06w?!

Tobi Amusan shocked by producing the two fastest times in hurdling history. (KEVIN MORRIS)

THE ICING PRECEDED the cake, in a sense as Tobi Amusan blew every onlooker’s mind in her semi.

The 4th-placer at both Doha ’19 and the Tokyo Olympics had incrementally over the last 3 years lowered her lifetime best from 12.49, run in July of ’19, to an African Record 12.40 to win her heat here. That performance, with Tokyo gold medalist Jasmine Camacho-Quinn the next fastest in the first preliminary round at 12.52, represented an 0.01 improvement from the 12.41 with which Amusan won at the Paris DL in June.

Amusan won that heat by a gaping 0.47 margin from ’15 world champion Danielle Williams.

UTEP alum Amusan was on an upswing but nobody foresaw the stunner that came next. In semi I, the first individual track race of the meet’s final day, Amusan blasted off to another reality, crossing the line to stop the clock on a number that found no immediate contextual reference: 12.12.

In one fell swoop she had axed 0.08 from the 12.20 WR Keni Harrison set in London in ’16. With a 0.9 following wind, she not only whacked 0.28 from her PR — who does that at the elite level? — but also finished an eye-popping 0.15 ahead of Harrison, whose 12.27 was her fastest since ’16.

Many assumed a timing system malfunction — from equipment manufactured by Seiko, which had generated observably faulty split data (though final times were fine) at these Worlds.

Not so. Amusan’s blinder was legit. (Among others, T&FN conducted a frame-count analysis of race video, which backs up the validity of the time.)

Four others set PRs in that semi. Four more ran lifetime bests in semi II led by NCAA titlist Alia Armstrong’s new personal standard of 12.43.

That made for two from Team USA in the final. Defending champion Nia Ali had drawn a DQ in her heat when she caught hurdle 9 with her trail leg and crashed hard and then down into hurdle 10.

Alaysha Johnson, No. 2 on the seasonal list and 3 on the T&FN formchart, was also stopped in the heats when she banged the first hurdle and pushed over the second for a disappointing DQ.

To win semi III Britany Anderson rushed to a Jamaican Record 12.31, 0.01 ahead of formchart fave Camacho-Quinn.

The energy level of the pumped-up final session crowd leapt further upward. A question, though, on the minds of more than a few was, Could Amusan regroup for the final after her shocker? She’d have less than 2 hours to do so.

Regroup, Amusan did. To run faster than ever(!), this time with an illegal 2.5 wind. Lined up in lane 4, she had Harrison on her left in 3, new player Anderson to her immediate right in 5 and Camacho-Quinn further right in corridor 7.

Her race? Again, the number out-superlatives words. 12.06w!

Amusan’s 0.130 reaction time — in a Worlds where a raft of anomalously fast getaways were recorded by the blocks — was just the sixth-fastest in the field. Danielle Williams, who would finish 6th (12.44w) led in the reaction category at 0.105.

At least 5 opponents appeared to get their lead legs down faster than Amusan off hurdle 1.

Alas for Doha silver medalist Harrison, she was not among them. She toppled the barrier, along with any hope that she might find a winning rhythm. She clobbered hurdles 7 & 8 also and had to push over No. 9 for a disqualification.

Amusan, by contrast, was on even terms with Armstrong, Williams and Anderson by hurdle 3 — it was not her early race that stood out — and about to run away.

From hurdle 6 onward she appeared to gain more ground on the field with each touchdown, her right, lead, leg landing noticeably farther past each barrier than the opposition’s touches.

Once over hurdle 10, Amusan finished with a forward-craning series of 5 strides that carried her across a meter up on Anderson & Camacho-Quinn (both at 12.23w).

Armstrong, solid in the mix late in the going, placed 4th, about a foot and a half farther back, her 12.31w easily eclipsing Cindy Sember’s 12.38w for 5th.

Said Amusan, “The goal was to come out and to win this gold. I just did it. Honestly, I believe in my abilities but I was not expecting a World Record at these championships.

“You know, the goal is always just to execute well and get the win. So the World Record is a bonus. I knew I had it in me but I could not believe it when I saw it on the screen after the semis.

“But it was just a matter of time. And I am thankful. Before the final, I just tried to stay calm and to do my best. I took a deep breath knowing that I have some goal to accomplish and it worked pretty good. I knew it was very fast but not this fast. Thanks to God. It has been a long journey.”


FINAL (July 24; wind +2.5)

(temperature 88F/31C; humidity 40%)

1. Tobi Amusan (Ngr) 12.06w (a-c WR);

2. Britany Anderson (Jam) 12.23w (a-c: 4, 5 W);

3. Jasmine Camacho-Quinn (PR) 12.23w (a-c: =4, =5 W);

4. Alia Armstrong (US) 12.31w (a-c: 5, 9 A);

5. Cindy Sember (GB) 12.38w;

6. Danielle Williams (Jam) 12.44w;

7. Devynne Charlton (Bah) 12.53w;

… dq[pushed over hurdle]—Keni Harrison (US).

(a-c best-ever mark-for-place: 1–7)

(lanes: 1. Sember; 2. Williams; 3. Harrison; 4. Amusan; 5. Anderson; 6. Armstrong; 7. Camacho-Quinn; 8. Charlton)

(reaction times: 0.105 Williams, 0.125 Armstrong, 0.127 Camacho-Quinn, 0.129 Anderson & Charlton, 0.130 Amusan, 0.145 Harrison, 0.158 Sember)

HEATS (July 23)

I(-0.3)–1. Anderson 12.59; 2. Michelle Harrison (Can) 12.95; 3. Mette Graversgaard (Den) 13.04; 4. Greisys Roble (Cub) 13.24; 5. Anne Zagré (Bel) 13.25; 6. Naomi Akakpo (Tog) 13.64;… dq[fell]—Nia Ali (US) (adjacent lane hurdle interference).

II(-0.4)–1. Camacho-Quinn 12.52; 2. Charlton 12.69; 3. Noemi Zbären (Swi) 13.00; 4. Cyrena Samba-Mayela (Fra) 13.15; 5. Klaudia Siciarz (Pol) 13.27; 6. Zoë Sedney (Neth) 13.38; 7. Ketiley Batista (Bra) 14.22.

III(1.5)–1. Amusan 12.40 NR; 2. Williams 12.87; 3. Sarah Lavin (Ire) 12.99; 4. Celeste Mucci (Aus) 13.01; 5. Ditaji Kambundji (Swi) 13.12; 6. Ebony Morrison (Lbr) 13.12; 7. Sidonie Fiadanantsoa (Mol) 13.57.

IV(0.7)–1. Pia Skrzyszowska (Pol) 12.70; 2. Nadine Visser (Neth) 12.76; 3. Andrea Carolina Vargas (CRC) 13.12; 4. Paola Vazquez (PR) 13.12; 5. Helena Jiranová (CzR) 13.37;… dq[both for adjacent-lane hurdle interference]—Alaysha Johnson (US), Liz Clay (Aus).

V(0.5)–1. Armstrong 12.48; 2. Megan Tapper (Jam) 12.73; 3. Marione Fourie (SA) 12.94; 4. Mako Fukube (Jpn) 12.96; 5. Laeticia Bapte (Fra) 13.03;… dnf—Mulern Jean (Hai).

VI(-0.4)–1. Harrison 12.60; 2. Sember 12.67; 3. Michelle Jenneke (Aus) 12.84; 4. Reetta Hurske (Fin) 13.09; 5. Masumi Aoki (Jpn) 13.12; 6. Yoveiny Mota (Ven) 13.12; 7. Elisa Maria Di Lazzaro (Ita) 13.16.

VII(-0.1)–1. Zagré 14.09 (rerun after appeal for being interfered with by falling Ali).

SEMIS (July 24)

I(0.9)–1. Amusan 12.12 WR (old record 12.20 Harrison ’16) (fastest non-final ever);

2. K. Harrison 12.27 (AL) (x, =11 W; x, 4 A);

3. Williams 12.41; 4. Sember 12.50 NR; 5. Jenneke 12.66 PR; 6. Kambundji 12.70 PR; 7. Vargas 12.82; 8. Fukube 12.82 NR.

(best-ever mark-for-place: 1–3)

II(-0.1)–1. Armstrong 12.43 PR (=11, x A); 2. Charlton 12.46 NR; 3. Tapper 12.52 PR; 4. Skrzyszowska 12.62 =PR; 5. Fourie 12.93; 6. Aoki 13.04; 7. Graversgaard 13.05;… dq—Mucci(adjacent lane hurdle interference).

III(0.3)–1. Anderson 12.31 NR; 2. Camacho-Quinn 12.32; 3. Visser 12.66; 4. M. Harrison 12.74 PR; 5. Lavin 12.87; 6. Bapte 12.93; 7. Zbären 12.94; 8. Hurske 13.15.

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