World champion Nia Ali opened her 2020 season with an electrifying win in the 60-meter hurdles Saturday at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix in Roxbury, Mass.
Ali, a graduate of Pleasantville High School, ran 7.94 and edged world indoor silver medalist Christina Clemons, who was second in 7.98. Payton Chadwick placed third in 8.07.
It was Ali’s first indoor race in more than two years, since she ran 8.45 at the Pima Aztec Indoor Invitational in Tucson, Ariz., on Jan. 20, 2018. It was only her third indoor meet in the last four years.
“It means a lot to start off the season here,” Ali said in an interview on the IAAF (WorldAthletics) web site. “My family is able to get down and see me and I appreciate that. Especially being from the East coast. I know the crowd is always good to me, so I love it.”
Ali, Clemons and Chadwick have the No. 2, 3 and 4 time in the world this year, according to the IAAF world performance list, behind Tonea Marshall, who ran 7.86 last weekend in Lubbock, Texas.
Ali’s time is her fastest since she ran 7.81 on March 18, 2016, at the Oregon Convention Center. Her PR is 7.80, which she ran in Albuquerque on Feb. 23, 2014. That ranks her No. 20 in world history and No. 8 in U.S. history.
Ali ranks No. 9 in world history and No. 4 in U.S. history with her 12.34 over the 100-meter highs, which she ran when she won the gold medal at the World Championships in Doha, Qatar, in October.
Ali won the silver medal as part of a U.S. sweep at Estádio Olímpico at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 2016.
Ali ran 7.99 in the trials earlier Saturday, leading all qualifiers into the final. This was her first meet since she won gold at Worlds in Doha on Oct. 6.