Pleasantville’s Nia Ali ran the 8th-fastest high hurdles time in the world this year in the semifinals at USATF Nationals Saturday, then scratched from the final with her spot at the World Championships assured.
Ali ran 12.49 to win the first of two 100-meter hurdles semifinal races Saturday afternoon at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore. That was the 2nd-fastest time going into the final behind only world record holder Kendra Harrison, who ran 12.40 to win the 2nd semifinal. Harrison set the world record of 12.20 to win the Olympic gold medal in London in 2016.
Ali was 2nd in that race but ran her PR of 12.34 when she won the 2019 World Championships in Doha, Qatar. That’s 7th in world history.
At 33 years old after taking a year and a half off to have her third baby, that 12.49 is Ali’s fastest time since Doha and only 15-100ths of a second off her lifetime-best time.
The 12.49 is also her 4th-fastest time ever, behind the 12.34 in Doha, a 12.44 in the semifinals in Doha and a 12.48 at the 2013 U.S. Championships in Des Moines, Iowa.
The only hurdler to run faster at 33 years old is Gail Devers, who was 33 years, 8 months, 14 days old when she ran 12.33 at the 2000 U.S. Championships in Sacramento. Ali is 33 months, 8 months and 2 days old – 12 days younger than Devers.
But when the final went off, Ali’s lane 6 was vacant. Harrison went on to win the final in a 2022 world-best 12.34.
There was no immediate word whether Ali is injured or why she scratched. But she did not need to place in the top two at the U.S. Championships to qualify for the World Championships because as the 2019 World Champion she has an automatic berth into the meet.
The 2022 World Athletics Championships are scheduled for July 15-24 back at Hayward Field. The first round of the hurdles is scheduled for 2:20 p.m. EST on July 23 with the semifinals and finals a day later at 8:05 p.m. and 10 p.m.