Almost a year ago, on the day of the Tokyo Olympics, Tobi Amusan finished the women’s 100m hurdles medal race with perhaps the worst place you can finish in a major athletics event: fourth.
On Sunday, during the last session of the 2022 World Championships in Athletics, Amusan, the Nigerian who was the NCAA champion in Texas-El Paso, had the evening of her life.
Running the first of three semi-final heats, Amusan stunned the crowd and track fans with a time of 12.12 seconds, beating the world record of 12.20 set by American Kendra Harrison in 2016.
The final took place less than two hours later, and although the world record was great, Amusan and seven other women in the hurdles final were to win the gold.
If Amusan was overwhelmed or mentally consumed by her sensational semi-final, you can’t really tell in the final. Coming very close to American Alia Armstrong and Jamaican Brittany Anderson over the first four hurdles, Amusan pulled away after the fifth to maintain the lead in winning the World Championship.
Her time of 12.06 seconds was another incredible mark, but since the anemometer read +2.5 meters per second during the race, this would not count as an official world record; only wind readings of +2.0 or below are official.
Amusan is the first Nigerian man or woman to win world championship gold.
The silver and bronze medals were decided in thousandths of a second, with Anderson holding onto the silver medal with a score of 12.224, while Puerto Rican Jasmine Camacho-Quinn, the gold medalist in Tokyo, won the bronze with a score of 12.229.
When she crossed the line in the semi-finals, Amusan couldn’t seem to believe what she saw on the giant clock by the track, frozen at 12:12. Her arms were spread wide and her mouth parted. Seconds later, she started screaming and hugged Jamaican Danielle Williams.
The three semi-races were brilliant across the board. Of the 24 women who competed, there were four national records and seven other women set lifetime bests in addition to Amusan’s world record.
While the United States was stripped of medals in the 100m hurdles, the Americans were not eliminated that evening.
Ating Mu, a 20-year-old native of New Jersey, became the first American to win gold at the World Championships in the 800 meters, overtaking Britain’s Keely Hodgkinson. Mu’s time was 1:56.30 to 1:56.38 for Hodgkinson. Mary Moraa of Kenya won bronze in 1:56.71.
Mu was a gold medalist at last year’s Summer Olympics.
The US won the last two races of the competition, the men’s and women’s 4x400m relay. The men – Elijah Godwin, Michael Norman, Bryce Deadmon and Champion Allison – took over in 2:56.17, one of the fastest times in history.
Among women, Talitha Diggs, Abby Steiner, Delilah Muhammad and Sydney McLaughlin won gold in a time of 3:17.79, also one of the fastest times ever. McLaughlin’s anchor leg lasted an unrealistic 47.91 seconds, even if it wasn’t actually pushed; The USA won by almost 3 full seconds.
As she competed in Saturday’s preliminary round, legend Allison Felix will also take the gold medal, earning her 20 World Championship medals in her career.
Even though the women’s relay was the last running event, the men’s pole vault is not over yet. Mondo Duplantis, the Louisiana prodigy who competes for his mother’s home country of Sweden, has already won the gold medal, but set the bar at 6.21 meters (20 ft 4.5 in), which would raise the world record he held for more than two years.
Duplantis didn’t make it on his first try, but on his second he flew over the bar with ample margin, causing cheers from the crowd, and the young superstar jumped off the mats, missed a few steps onto the track, and then did a front flip.
With three gold medals on Sunday night, as well as a pole vault silver from Christopher Nielsen and a decathlon bronze from Zak Zimek, the United States finished the World Championships with 33 medals, the most by a single country in the competition’s nearly 40-year history.
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