Meet Tobi Amusan, Women’s 100m Hurdles World Record Holder

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New World Record (WR) holder in the Women’s 100m Hurdles, Tobi Amusan of Nigeria, shattered the WR in the semi-finals of the Oregon 2022 World Athletics Championships, while also blazing to a time of 12.06s to claim Gold in the final of the event.

Amusan smashed the WR clocking 12.12s in the semi-finals of the Championships, shaving 0.08 off the previous mark set by Kendra Harrison of the USA in 2016. She also become the first Nigerian to win Gold in the history of the World Athletics Championships, racing to a superb 12.06s in the 100m Hurdles event on Monday.

The Track and Field athlete was clocked in 12.06s, but the time won’t be recognised as a WR due to a tail wind of +2.5 m/s. After fourth-place finishes at the 2019 World Athletics Championships in Doha and last year’s Tokyo Olympics, Amusan finally made it to the top of the podium, while breaking a World Record in the process.

 

“The goal was to come out and to win this gold,” Amusan said. “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. Looking back on how she made it here, Amusan said: “It has been a long journey.”

 

Born in the town of Ijebu Ode in Ogun State, South-Western Nigeria, Amusan started out as a sprinter and long jumper as a youngster. She once turned up to compete in a local athletics meet at the age of 13, only to find out that just the hurdles event was left on the programme.

Amusan’s coach encouraged her to enter and she eventually ended up winning the race, which spurred her on to develop her skills in athletics. She gradually made the transition to hurdles as a teenager.

When she was replaced as a member of Nigeria’s 4x100m relay squad at the trials for the 2014 African Youth Games, she entered the hurdles event. She won that and went on to earn Silver at the African Youth Games in Botswana.

Then followed a trip to Ethiopia in 2015, where she won African U20 Gold, followed by a breakthrough victory at the All-African Games in Brazzaville, Congo.

“It was one of the biggest milestones of my career; winning that championship set me up for who I am today,” Amusan said.

The Nigerian received a scholarship in 2016 to attend the University of Texas, El Paso, where she trained with coach Lacena Golding-Clarke, a three-time Olympian from Jamaica. Golding-Clarke is also the 2002 Commonwealth Games 100m hurdles champion.

Three-time Olympian Lacena Golding-Clarke of Jamaica (L) with Tobi Amusan (R).

At the 2016 U-20 World Championships in Poland, Amusan struggled with her technique and finished in fifth place.  Later on, the Nigerian reached the semi-finals of the 2016 Rio Olympics. She also  went unbeaten in the 2017 outdoor US collegiate season and won the NCAA title with a Personal Best (PB) of 12.57.

The Track and Field athlete went into the 2017 world championships in London, but failed to make the final. At the age of 20, Amusan turned pro and and went on to win Gold at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia. She also triumphed at the African Championships later that year.

In 2019, she finished just 0.02 shy of a bronze in Doha. Amusan also missed out on a medal at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Nigerian sprint hurdler Tobi Amusan competing at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

“I don’t think there is a track and field event which can teach humility quite like the sprint hurdles,” Amusan added.

“You can be the fastest in the field but one mistake can spell the end for your race. A hurdler should never go into any race with any level of complacency or arrogance. It teaches you to be humble.”

The switch to the sprint hurdles as a teenager paid off in sensational fashion as Amusan smashed the World Record, clocking 12.12s in the semi-finals at the World Championships. She shaved 0.08 off the previous mark set by Kendra Harrison of the US in 2016.

Less than two hours later, Amusan came back for the final and ran another spectacular race to secure her first global Gold medal and the first ever for Nigeria at a World Athletics Championships.

 

Chidi Nwoke/World Athletics.


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