Nearly a year ago to the day at the Tokyo Olympics, Tobi Amusan finished the women’s 100-meter hurdles medal race in arguably the worst place you can finish at a major track and field event: fourth.
On Sunday during the last session of the 2022 World Athletics Championships, Amusan, a Nigerian who was an NCAA champion at Texas-El Paso, had the evening of her life.
Running in the first of three semifinal heats, Amusan stunned the crowd and track fans by posting 12.12 seconds, breaking the world record of 12.20 set by American Kendra Harrison in 2016.
The finals were less than two hours later, and while the world record was great, Amusan and the seven other women in the hurdle final were there to win gold.
If Amusan was overwhelmed or mentally preoccupied with her sensational semifinal, you certainly couldn’t tell it in the final. Running very close with American Alia Armstrong and Jamaican Britany Anderson over the first four hurdles, Amusan pulled away after the fifth and maintained the lead for the World Championship win.
Her time of 12.06 seconds was another incredible mark, but as the wind gauge during the race read +2.5 meters per second it will not be considered the official world record; only wind readings +2.0 or under are official.
Amusan is the first man or woman from Nigeria to win Worlds gold.
The silver and bronze medals were decided by thousandths of a second as Anderson held on for the silver medal in 12.224 and Puerto Rican Jasmine Camacho-Quinn, the gold medalist in Tokyo, won bronze in 12.229.
When she crossed the line in the semifinals, Amusan couldn’t seem to believe what she was seeing on the giant trackside clock, frozen at 12.12. Her hands were spread wide and her mouth was hanging open. After a few seconds, she began screaming and embraced 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 ran lifetime bests in addition to Amusan’s world mark.
While the United States was shut out of the medals in the 100m hurdles, Americans were not shut out on the night.
Athing Mu, the 20-year-old New Jersey native, became the first American woman to win Worlds gold in the 800 meters, out-kicking Great Britain’s Keely Hodgkinson. Mu’s time was 1:56.30 to 1:56.38 for Hodgkinson. Kenya’s Mary Moraa won bronze in 1:56.71.
Mu was the gold medalist at last year’s Summer Olympics.
The U.S. won the final two races of the meet, the men’s and women’s 4×400 meter relays. The men Elijah Godwin, Michael Norman, Bryce Deadmon and Champion Allison got the baton around 2:56.17, one of the fastest times in history.
For the women, it was Talitha Diggs, Abby Steiner, Dalilah Muhammad and Sydney McLaughlin who won gold, posting a time of 3:17.79, also one of the fastest times ever. McLaughlin’s anchor leg was an unreal 47.91 seconds even as she was not really pushed; the U.S. won by almost 3 full seconds.
Since she ran in the preliminary round Saturday, legend Allyson Felix will also get a gold medal, giving her even 20 Worlds medals for her career.
Though the women’s relay was the final running event of the meet, the men’s pole vault was still wrapping up. Mondo Duplantis, the Louisiana-born wunderkind who competes for his mother’s home country of Sweden, had already clinched the gold medal but had the bar set at 6.21 meters (20 feet, 4.5 inches), which would raise the world record he has held for over two years.
Duplantis didn’t get it on the first try, but on his second he sailed over the bar with plenty to spare, setting off a celebration from the crowd and the young superstar, who jumped off the landing mats, skipped a few steps on the track and then did a front flip.
With the three golds Sunday night as well as a pole vault silver from Christopher Nilsen and a decathlon bronze from Zach Ziemek, the United States finished Worlds with 33 medals, the most for a single country in the event’s nearly 40-year history.