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Amusan not “bothered” after her world record was questioned; Johnson stands ground

World Athletics Championships: Tobi Amusan, who breaks record of women’s 100m hurdles twice in Eugene, “unbothered” by Michael Johnson’s record doubts

World Athletics Championships: Tobi Amusan, who breaks record of women’s 100m hurdles twice in Eugene, “unbothered” by Michael Johnson’s record doubts
Anadolu AgencyGetty

Retired American sprinter Michael Johnson found himself on the hot seat after questioning Nigeria’s Tobi Amusan’s time in Oregon, as well as the 28 other athletes racing the event.

Johnson, who won four Olympic gold medals and 8 World Championships gold medals in the span of his career, has been blasted by Nigerians over a comment he made regarding the world champion who had just recorded her name in the history books of the World Athletics Federation by becoming the first Nigerian to win gold in the 100 meter hurdles in the semifinals at the World Championships this Sunday.

Amusan set two world records in Eugene, Oregon; she clocked 12.12secs in the semifinal, and quickly beat her own record in the finals with a record time of 12.06, even though it was with too much tailwind for record purposes. Jamaican Britany Anderson took silver, followed by Olympic gold medalist Jasmine Camacho-Quinn of Puerto Rico.

What did Michael Johnson say about Tobi Amusan’s record time?

Johnson, who’s also a BBC commentator, wrote on Twitter that he didn’t believe 100h times were correct. “World record broken by .08! 12 PBs set. 5 National records set,” he wrote.

Johnson also commented that “all athletes looked shocked. Heat 2 we were first shown winning with a time of 12.53. Few seconds later it shows 12.43. Rounding down by .01 is normal. .10 is not.”

Johnson was met with fierce backlash for his comments, and was called a ‘racist’ among other things.

Upon the social outburst, Johnson took to Twitter defending his role as a commentator serving all athletes, who also happened to predict Amusan would win:

“As a commentator my job is to comment. In questioning the times of 28 athletes (not 1 athlete) by wondering if the timing system malfunctioned, I was attacked, accused of racism, and of questioning the talent of an athlete I respect and predicted to win. Unacceptable. I move on,” he said.

Amusan wasn’t “really bothered” by record doubts

Amusan, who came fourth at the Tokyo Olympics, celebrated her triumph to the fullest. Rather than worrying about how her time was or was not recorded, she was just happy to be in first place.

“At first I was like, where the wind reading at?” she said following the race (the wind was +.9 meters/second, well below the limit of two meters/second). “But then I wasn’t really bothered because the goal is to cross the line first.”

Amusan broke two world records after 42 years

Amusan’s semi-final time (12.12 seconds) had already beaten American Kendra Harrison’s 2016 record of 12.20 by 0.8 of a second. That was the largest time drop for a world record in the event in 42 years. Her final record of 12.06 surpassed that, sending shockwaves through the athletics world, with Olympic champions such as Usain Bolt and Noah Lyles commenting on the 25-year-old’s performance.


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