An Amazing World Record Runs Into a Question: Was It Too Amazing?

Tobi Amusan of Nigeria set a world file within the girls’s 100-meter hurdles on Sunday on the world monitor and discipline championships in Eugene, Ore. That by itself was not shocking: World data typically fall at huge occasions, in spite of everything.

What raised eyebrows, although, was not the consequence however the margin by which Amusan broke the file, and the sheer variety of private and nationwide data set by rivals within the occasion.

The fourth-, fifth-, sixth- and eighth-placed runners in Amusan’s warmth, a semifinal, additionally ran their greatest instances ever. The different three runners ran their greatest instances of the 12 months.

Even Amusan looked stunned when she noticed her time — 12.12 seconds — on a stadium scoreboard.

Amusan’s time of 12.12 broke the previous file of 12.20, held by the American Kendra Harrison since 2016, by 0.08 of a second — a large drop in an occasion typically determined by the best of margins. The 4 most up-to-date world data within the occasion, for instance, broke the earlier marks by 0.01, 0.04, 0.01 and 0.03 seconds.

The final time the file was lowered by such a massive margin was in 1980.

The confluence of fleet instances made some surprise if one thing was unsuitable with the timing system, and even with the wind gauge, which when the race started confirmed a tail wind of 0.924 meters per second, properly inside the authorized restrict of two.0.

Could the entire hurdlers have run such personal-best races on the identical time? At least one knowledgeable wasn’t so positive.

The 200- and 400-meter legend Michael Johnson, who was working the worlds as a BBC tv commentator, led the cost of doubt over the instances, which the meet’s personal social media accounts labeled, apparently unironically, “unbelievable.”

“I do not imagine 100h instances are right,” he wrote on Twitter. “World file damaged by .08! 12 PBs set. 5 National data set.”

Johnson famous that at the least one of many runners, Cindy Sember of Britain, had prompt she felt she had been operating sluggish. “All athletes regarded shocked,” Johnson added.

(In the equal males’s race, the 110-meter hurdles, there was just one private greatest within the semifinals and one within the ultimate.)

Amusan’s time was unusually quick even for her: 0.28 of a second sooner than her earlier greatest time of 12.40, set within the heats on Saturday. That enchancment represented a staggering margin in such a brief race.

The second and third semifinals of the ladies’s 100 meters additionally had a lot of quick instances, though not as many as the primary. In the second semifinal, the highest 5 finishers ran or equaled their private bests. The third semifinal had two private bests and three extra season bests.

And evaluating the speedy semifinal instances to the ultimate two hours later is troublesome, as a result of the wind was on the runners’ backs for that race, at 2.524 meters per second. Amusan received the gold medal in a good sooner time — 12.06 seconds — however that mark is not going to rely as a file as a result of it was deemed wind-aided.

While her semifinal time was startling, there was no questioning that Amusan, 25, was able to profitable the championship. After capturing an NCAA title at Texas-El Paso, she received the gold medal on the 2018 Commonwealth Games and the 2021 Diamond League ultimate. She positioned fourth within the ultimate on the Tokyo Olympics final 12 months.

But maybe as a result of her gold was the primary for Nigeria in any occasion at a world championships, there was loads of pushback on Twitter to Johnson’s skepticism, with some accusing him of bias towards Amusan, an African athlete who beat a file held by an American.

After briefly mixing it up with several critics, Johnson ultimately dismissed the accusations of bias, writing: “As a commentator my job is to remark. In questioning the instances of 28 athletes (not 1 athlete) by questioning if the timing system malfunctioned, I used to be attacked, accused of racism, and of questioning the expertise of an athlete I respect and predicted to win. Unacceptable. I transfer on.”

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