The immediate past Nigerian and African Record holder in the women’s 100m hurdles, Glory Alozie, set the record of 12.44s in 1998 while competing in Monaco.
She would go on to equal that mark twice before the end of her career, first in Brussels to win the Memorial Van Damme just 20 days after initially setting the AR, and then a year later at the 1999 World Championships in Seville, to claim Silver behind USA’s Gail Devers.
The first time Tobi Amusan broke 12.50s was in 2019 when she raced at the Meeting Pro Athlé Tour de Sotteville les Rouen in France. She returned a time of 12.49s at the time, a Personal Best (PB).
The next time she went close to breaking the AR was at the World Championships in Doha nearly three months after. The hurdler set a new lifetime best of 12.48s to dominate her heat, and equalled the same time in the semis, taking the win too. However, in the final, her time of 12.49s relegated her to 4th and a place outside the medals zone.
The 2017 NCAA Champion equalled her PB at the Pure Athletics Sprint Elite Meet in 2021. A month later, the hurdler was in action at the NACAC New Life Invitational where she ran an impressive, wind-aided 12.43s (+4.5m/s). it was a similar case in the final where she was once again denied the AR due to a marginal wind after posting 12.44s (+2.2m/s).
But it all came together for the Nigerian at the final leg of the 2021 Diamond League in Zurich. Still smarting from the disappointment of not making the podium in Tokyo, Amusan powered to a scintillating 12.42s to finally break Alozie’s 23-year-old AR and claim the first Diamond League trophy of her career, the first Nigerian athlete and African hurdler to achieve such a feat.
The jinx was finally broken, and Amusan would go on to break her own AR three times in the course of the next 12 months.
First off was the 2022 Diamond League in Paris where she stormed to a new AR of 12.41s to take the victory, showing her fine form ahead of the World Athletics Championships that was to hold in Oregon in the US.
As one of the favourites for the title, Amusan delivered a breath-taking performance in the heats, lowering her PB yet again by 0.02s to finish ahead of the rest of the field with so much ease. However, no one could have imagined what was to come in the semis.
‘Tobi Amusan’s Top 5 Track Moments’ is a five-part series highlighting the major achievements of Nigeria’s only World Champion and World Record holder in Track and Field – Tobi Amusan – even as she gets set to defend her world title at the ongoing World Championships in Budapest, Hungary. Here are Part 1 and Part 2 of the series.