African Games women’s hurdles gold medalist, Tobi Amusan is agonizing over his missed opportunity of clinching a podium spot at this year’s IAAF World Athletics Championship in Doha, Qatar, as she says finishing fourth in the final was the worst position she could have achieved.
While many observers would see it as a gallant effort to end up fourth among the world’s best short hurdles at the elite global track and field showpiece, Amusan said during Mega Sports on Star 101. 5 FM, Lagos that she felt the pain more because she was just few seconds and a step short of picking a medal at Doha 2019.
Before Sunday’s final, Amusan emerged as a medal contender, after winning her first-round heat in a PB of 12.48 and then equalling that time to win her semi-final segment, but Jamaica’s 2015 world champion, Danielle Williams won her semi-final in 12.41, finishing 0.03 ahead of Nia Ali, and USA’s world indoor champion Kendra Harrison won hers in 12.58, to confirm their ratings heading into the championships as the medal favourites.
Those same four women got out best in the final and were level over the first few barriers. But while many were looking at Williams or Harrison to edge ahead, it was Ali who emerged as the leader at half way.
A proven championship performer, Ali held off the strong three-pronged challenge from Harrison, Williams and Amusan and crossed the line a metre ahead of her rivals, stopping the clock at a lifetime best of 12.34 (0.3m/s).
Harrison got the better of Williams on the line, clocking 12.46 to take the silver medal just 0.01 ahead of her Jamaican rival, while Amusan was fourth in 12.49, and it was just the second time in history, after the 1987 World Championships final, in which four women have bettered 12.50.
Andrea Carolina Vargas became Costa Rica’s first ever finalist at a World Championships and she rose to the occasion, setting a national record of 12.64 to place fifth. Nadine Visser of the Netherlands was sixth (12.66) and Jamaica’s Janeek Brown seventh (12.88). Her compatriot Megan Tapper did not finish
Earlier on, Amusan kept alive Nigeria’s hopes of winning a medal by powering to a new Personal Best (PB) of 12.48s to run the fastest time in women’s 100m Hurdles heats, as she worked hard to make the best of the championships, which she entered with a PB of 12.49s and a fast 12.51s last month in Berlin, Germany.
Amusan knew that she is in a good form to challenge the favourites, and she got off to a good start, scaling through the barriers cleanly and shaving off a hundredth of a second from her previous PB, taking the race ahead of Jamaica’s Janeek Brown who placed second in 12.61s.
The Nigerian ace then inspired a very fast Heat 5, which was so fast that seven out of the eight athletes in the race, all qualified from the heat into the semi-finals on Sunday, with three of the four fastest losers emerging from her field, but it was fellow-Africa Games winner, Ese Brume that got Nigeria’s lone medal in Doha, after leaping to bronze in the women’s long jump, while Amusan was left ruing a case of ‘so near yet so far,’ barely short of a podium spot in her debut.
Nonetheless, she still gave thanks to God and disclosed that she now has to quickly get over the setback in Doha, so that she can concentrate on her education and then start making plans for next season, especially with the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on the horizon.
Amusan stated: “I give God the glory for everything, but I have to admit it was painful for me out there in Doha. Finishing fourth is the worst position you can be in, but I have to pick it up from there. I thank God for everything,. Now I will concentrate on my studies and then start preparing for the new season. Hopefully, I can get something next year, especially at the Olympics.”