Nigeria’s Tobi Amusan smashed hurdles world record, but questions followed

(Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

Tobi Amusan of Nigeria broke the world record in the women’s 100-meter hurdles Sunday with a time of 12.12 seconds, but the validity of the record has been called into question.

Amusan’s time, set in the semifinals at the World Athletics Championships in Oregon, broke the old record of 12.20 by 0.08 seconds. In comparison, the previous four world records in the event were broken by slimmer margins (0.01, 0.04, 0.01 and 0.03 seconds). Not since 1980 had the world record been beaten by such a large margin.

For Amusan, the time also marked a personal best, beating out her previous best (12.40) by 0.28 seconds.

The 25-year-old later won gold with a time of 12.06 seconds in the final – but that mark is not counted as a record because it was deemed to be wind-aided. The gold medal is Nigeria’s first in any event at worlds.

The other athletes in the semifinals race with Amusan also ran exceptionally fast, which contributed to post-race questioning of the results. The fourth-, fifth-, sixth- and eighth-placed runners in also set personal bests, while the other three runners finished with their fastest times of the year.

Cindy Sember of Britain, who also ran in the heat, was surprised by her time and suggested that she felt as though she wasn’t running as fast as her time showed, the New York Times reported.

Some observers wondered whether there had been an error with the time clock or the wind gauge. The wind gauge showed a tail wind of 0.924 meters per second, well within the legal limit of 2.0 meters per second.

“I don’t believe 100h times are correct,” wrote Olympic and world champion Michael Johnson, who is now a commentator for BBC. “World record broken by .08! 12 PBs set. 5 National records set… All athletes looked shocked.”