Jamaica’s Elaine Thompson-Herah successfully defended her Olympic 100m crown on Saturday, storming to victory with the second fastest time in history.
Thompson-Herah raced over the line at Tokyo’s Olympic Stadium in 10.61sec, with two-time champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce taking silver in 10.74 and Shericka Jackson bronze in 10.76 to complete a Jamaican sweep of the podium.
Thompson-Herah’s Olympic record winning mark matched the second-fastest time in history of 10.61 set by the late Florence Griffith-Joyner.
Only Griffith-Joyner, the 1988 Olympic champion who remains the world record holder with a best of 10.49, has ever run faster.
“I am really excited to come back and retain my title. My chest hurts, I am so happy,” Thompson-Herah said.
Thompson-Herah said she had not expected to challenge for the Olympic title earlier this year, when she was bothered by a niggling Achilles injury.
“Two months ago I didn’t think I would be here today,” said Thompson-Herah, who finished third behind Fraser-Pryce at Jamaica’s Olympic trials in June.
“But I held my composure, I believed in myself, I believed in God and the team around me is very strong. I never expected to run this fast.
“Behind this 10.6 it takes a lot. I knew I could have run this time from like 2016. But I think I celebrated early too much in my career. But I knew it would come one day eventually.”
‘I could have gone faster’
The pre-race hype had focused on Fraser-Pryce, who until Saturday had been the fastest woman in the world over the distance this year.
The 34-year-old had been bidding to become the oldest sprinter to ever win an Olympic 100m title, and the first woman to win three individual track and field golds.
But in sultry conditions at an empty Olympic Stadium, it was 2016 Rio gold medallist Thompson who seized the moment.
Before the race, the stadium was plunged into darkness as the finalists were introduced under a spotlight bearing down on the starting area.
Thompson-Herah looked stony-faced as she focused on the challenge ahead in the lane next to Fraser-Pryce.
Fraser-Pryce got out of the blocks smoothly but once Thompson-Herah hit her stride there was only going to be one winner.
She drew level with Fraser-Pryce after around 60 metres and pulled clear, pointing and gesticulating in delight at the electronic board displaying her winning time as she crossed the line.
“I think I could have gone faster if I wasn’t pointing and celebrating,” Thompson-Herah said. “I wanted to show there was more in store. Hopefully one day I can unleash that time.”
Fraser-Pryce, who reiterated she plans to retire in 2022, was left disappointed but proud of leaving her fourth consecutive Olympic games with a medal.
“Of course you’re disappointed,” Fraser-Pryce said. “The only aim you have as an athlete is to win.
“That didn’t happen tonight but still I’m grateful to be able to make the finals and stand on the podium at my fourth Olympic Games.
“So putting it in perspective I’m really grateful for the opportunity I had tonight. Even though it happened that way, I’m still excited that I walk away, yet again, with another medal.”
Fraser-Pryce meanwhile said Thompson-Herah’s blistering time reflected well on the strength of women’s sprinting.
“From the heats I knew it was going to be a fast race,” she said. “I’m really excited that female sprinting is going to another level. And that’s truly remarkable. It speaks to the depth that we have as females.”
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