Olympic champion Elaine Thompson-Herah scored an emphatic 100m victory over the returning Sha’Carri Richardson at the Prefontaine Classic in Oregon on Saturday.
Jamaican star Thompson-Herah powered over the line at Hayward Field in 10.54sec – the second fastest time in history – as Richardson finished a distant last in 11.14sec.
Saturday’s Diamond League clash in Eugene had been billed as a chance for Richardson to show the world what might have been after she was banned from the Olympics for testing positive for marijuana following her win at the US trials in June.
But in her first race since returning from suspension, the 21-year-old Texan was never in contention as Thompson-Herah – who completed back-to-back Olympic 100m and 200m wins in Tokyo – surged away to finish several meters clear of the field.
Thompson-Herah’s compatriot Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce finished second in 10.73sec while Shericka Jackson took third in 10.76sec – a carbon copy of the Tokyo Olympic 100m podium.
Thompson-Herah’s winning time saw her slice 0.07sec off her Olympic record of 10.61sec set on July 31.
Only the late Florence Griffith Joyner has ever run faster, with Thompson-Herah now tantalisingly close to the American’s 33-year-old world record of 10.49sec.
“To come back with a PB after the championships, that is amazing,” said Thompson-Herah.
“It means a lot to me...because my job is to inspire a generation. I have more races, so I don’t get too excited, too carried away. I have to continue doing the job.”
Richardson meanwhile put on a defiant stance after her much-hyped comeback fell flat.
“It was a great return back to the sport,” Richardson told NBC television. “I wanted to be able to come and perform. Having the month off, dealing with all I had to deal with, I’m not upset with myself at all.
“This is one race, I’m not done. You know what I’m capable of. Count me out if you want to, talk all the shit you want, because I’m here to stay,” added Richardson, who later withdrew from a women’s 200m won by Switzerland’s Mujinga Kambundji.
Lyles bounces back
Elsewhere on Saturday, American sprint star Noah Lyles bounced back from his disappointing Olympic campaign with a blistering victory in the 200m.
Lyles, the reigning 200m world champion, had been one of the biggest US medal hopes in Tokyo but in the end was forced to settle for a bronze after an uneven campaign with Canada’s Andre de Grasse taking gold.
But Lyles provided a reminder of his pedigree on Saturday with victory in 19.52sec, the fastest time in the world this year and nearly a full tenth of a second faster than de Grasse’s winning time in the Olympic final.
Olympic silver medallist Kenny Bednarek was second in 19.80sec with Lyles’ brother Josephus third in 20.03sec.
Lyles said sessions with a therapist – and packed stands at Hayward Field in contrast to the fan-less Olympics – had helped him rediscover his best form.
“I wasn’t really feeling that my mindset was right for today but I feel like five sessions of therapy I was able to let go of what happened in Tokyo and convince myself that ... I know I’m in great shape to run,” Lyles said.
“I don’t think you understand how lifeless it was in Tokyo to have no crowd there. It was dead silent. To come here and see a whole lot of people who love track, it was just amazing to see.”
De Grasse meanwhile showed his class in the 100m, overpowering a high class field to win in a wind-assisted 9.74sec. Olympic 100m silver medallist Fred Kerley was second in 9.78sec with Ronnie Baker third in 9.82sec.
In the women’s 800m meanwhile, Olympic champion Athing Mu conjured another barnstorming performance to win in a world leading 1min 55.04sec.
The American star – still only 19 – led from the front and looked to be threatening Jarmila Kratochvilova’s 38-year-old world record until tying up slightly in the closing stages.
There was another dominant performance in the women’s 1,500m, where Kenya’s Olympic champion Faith Kipyegon crushed the field to win in 3min 53.23sec.
Kipyegon, who successfully defended her Olympic title in Tokyo, finished more than six seconds clear of the field with Australia’s Linden Hall in second.
In the men’s mile, Norway’s newly crowned Olympic 1,500m champion Jakob Ingebrigtsen cruised to victory in a world leading 3min 47.24sec.