Nigerian takes world title but it’s her semi-final run of 12.12 which attracts all the attention

The headline news of the women’s 100m hurdles was written in the first semi-final. With the opening track action of the final session at the Oregon 2022 World Championships, Tobi Amusan destroyed the world record with a run of 12.12 (0.9) to chop 0.08 from Keni Harrision’s previous mark.

The Nigerian could scarcely believe it herself, while many eyebrows were raised when it emerged that everyone in that heat had either broken a record, produced a PB or managed a season’s best. Cindy Sember broke the British mark once held by her sister Tiffany Porter, running 12.50 to finish fourth, but still had to wait for her final place to be confirmed as a fastest loser, while the national records of Bahamas and Jamaica also fell in the heats.

The results all stood, however, making the medal showdown an even more enticing affair.

Amusan came out on top again in the final and further astonishment beckoned as she clocked 12.06 and Jamaican Britany Anderson managed 12.23, the same time awarded to bronze medallist Jasmine Camacho-Quinn. The illegal  wind reading of 2.5, however, meant there would be no more records broken for the time being. Sember was fifth in 12.38.

There was some intrigue around how Amusan, who had previously not broken 12.40, had been able to take such a huge leap forward. Plenty of attention focused on the fact that she was wearing the Adidas Adizero Avanti spikes, which are perfectly track legal but have a thicker sole and are made for the 5000m and 10,000m.

When asked about how she had been able to make such big improvements, she said: “I knew I needed to work on my speed. I did the 100m at the start of the season so that had a huge part to play when it came to the hurdles and I knew once I worked the technical part out I’d be fine.”

As for her choice of footwear, she added: “My abilities are not centred around spikes. I had plantar fasciitis at the beginning of the season so that set me back a bit for a while. I spoke to Adidas and I requested spikes with a softer sole. They recommended a lot of stuff and I felt comfortable in that [the Avanti], so I was using that basically the entire time.

“I believe in my abilities but I was not expecting a world record at these championships. 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.”

As for Sember, who will quickly move on to the Commonwealth Games and European Championships, she is expecting more from herself.

“It was good, fun and very competitive but I would have liked to have brought back some hardware as I was definitely gunning for it,” she said. “It keeps me hungry, I know I am in good form and I am going to bring back some hardware soon.

“I am in the form of my life but I know there’s more in the tank and I’m just waiting for when it is supposed to come.”

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