For a majority of athletics followers here in Budapest, the participation of Nigeria’s Tobi Amusan in the ongoing 19th World Athletics Championships means a lot.
Today is the semifinal of the women’s 100m hurdles, and the fans are rooting for Amusan to carry the day.
On a daily basis, the fans, in their thousands, come to the National Athletics Stadium in Budapest to cheer all the athletes.
But Amusan’s late clearance to complete in the championships after she was earlier suspended by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) for Whereabouts Failure charge, seems to have made the fans to fall in love with her.
From her first training on Monday, to her preliminary event on Tuesday, Amusan’s name rings a bell around the stadium.
And the Nigerian did not disappoint them on Tuesday, as she stormed into today’s semifinal in an impressive 12.48secs.
There will be no battle of two reigning champions in the 100m hurdles semifinal this evening. Amusan and Olympic champion, Jasmine Camacho-Quinn have been kept far apart.
Amusan seems to have gotten the easier draw with 2023 NCAA indoor and outdoor silver medalist, Masai Russell of the U.S. and Jamaica’s Ackera Nugent her strongest challengers for one of the two automatic qualifying tickets on offer in the second semifinal heat.
Russell is the second fastest in the line up behind Amusan following the 12.36 lifetime best she ran in Texas, U.S. at the start of April, while Nugent is the third fastest with her 12.43 personal best she ran in May.
Camacho-Quinn on the other, will battle 2019 World champion, Nia Ali and 2017 winner, Danielle Williams for the two automatic slots for the final.
Former world record holder, Kendra Harisson who stormed to a 12.24 world lead in the first round, will contest for the two automatic tickets to the final with 2021 Olympic bronze medal winner, Megan Tapper of Jamaica and Devynne Charlton of the Bahamas.
In the absence of a major contender from Hungary among the athletes, the home fans are rooting for the Nigerian, Amusan to carry the day.
The final of the women’s 100m hurdles comes up on Thursday.