Nigeria’s Tobi Amusan set a new world record in the women’s 100m hurdles at the World Athletics championships in Eugene on Monday — but it sparked plenty of debate.
In the first track event of the final session of the 10th day of competition, Amusan streaked to a winning time of 12.12 seconds in the first of three semi-finals.
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It smashed the previous best of 12.20sec set by American Kendra Harrison in 2016. Harrison was also in the first semi-final, finishing second in 12.27sec.
The previous championship record was 12.28sec set by Australian Sally Pearson in Daegu in 2011.
Amusan had set an African record of 12.40sec on Sunday to win her heat, the fastest first-round time in world championships history.
“I wanted to get out and go,” said the 25-year-old Nigerian. “I did what I had to do. Now I’m looking forward to the finals.”
However, there was some debate around the accuracy of the stopwatch in Oregon after a series of sizzling times — including personal bests and national records — were set.
Legendary American sprinter Michael Johnson, who won four Olympic gold medals during his decorated career, cast doubt on the legitimacy of the times being recorded in the 100m hurdles, suggesting something was amiss.
“I don’t believe 100h times are correct. World record broken by .08!” Johnson tweeted. “Twelve PBs set. Five national records set. And Cindy Sember quote after her PB/NR: ‘I thought I was running slow!’ All athletes looked shocked.
“Heat 2 we were first shown winning time of 12.53. Few seconds later it shows 12.43. Rounding down by .01 is normal. .10 is not.”
Speaking on the BBC, Johnson added: “I don’t believe these times, let’s look at the racing.”
Five of the eight runners in Amusan’s semi-final ran their fastest ever times, sparking incredulity within the athletics world.
Athletics writer Jonathan Gault was blown away.
Despite Johnson’s concerns, Amusan’s new world record will stand. Joining her and Harrison in the final will be Olympic champion Jasmine Camacho-Quinn of Puerto Rico, the Jamaican pair of Britany Anderson and 2015 world champion Danielle Williams, American Alia Armstrong, Devynne Charlton of the Bahamas and Brit Cindy Sember.