Elaine Thompson-Herah sets Olympic record as Jamaica sweeps women's 100
TOKYO — The women's Olympic 100-meter gold medal is staying in Jamaica — all of the medals are, in fact.
Elaine Thompson-Herah, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Shericka Jackson finished 1-2-3 in a clean sweep for the island nation in a race that turned out to be as fast as anticipated watching Thompson-Herah and Fraser-Pryce advance through the first two rounds.
The gold medalist in Rio in 2016 as well, Thompson-Herah took control quickly and she and Fraser-Pryce began to pull away from the pack at about 40 meters. But Thompson-Herah had clear separation with about 15 meters to go, crossing the finish line and pointing at the clock in disbelief.
Her time of 10.61 seconds is a new Olympic record, surpassing Florence Griffith-Joyner's 10.62 seconds, which had stood since the 1988 Seoul Games. It's also the second-fastest time in history.
"This is really special. Super special. I knew I could have run this from like 2016, but I think I celebrated early too much and I knew one day it would come, hopefully," Thompson-Herah said.
Fraser-Pryce's time was 10.74 seconds, and Jackson's 10.76.
This is the second time in the last four Olympics Jamaica swept the women's 100 — the first was in 2008, when Fraser-Pryce won her first gold (she'd win it again in 2012).
The win for Thompson-Herah was no sure thing: She's been dealing with an Achilles injury and she finished third at the Jamaican Trials in both the 100 and 200.
"Two months ago, probably a month-and-a-half, I didn't think I would be here today," Thompson-Herah said. "And I held my composure, I believe in myself, I believe in God, and the team around me is very strong, I get that support. I didn't expect to run this fast, even though I felt great during the rounds.
"Behind this 10.61 there was a lot of nerves. I said, 'You can do this, you've been here before, just execute.'"
This is the third gold medal for the 29-year-old, as she also won the 200 meters in Rio. She was part of the silver medal-winning 4x100 relay as well.
Fraser-Pryce said she stumbled a bit on her third step and never fully recovered. Her silver was her seventh Olympic medal.
"I'm happy to be able to come out here and to represent and to compete for the championship; that's always a plus, when you come and you give it everything you have and then whatever happens you walk away and you are grateful for the opportunity and you move to the next one," she said.
The only American in the final was Teahna Daniels. She finished seventh in the final in 11.02 seconds after running a personal-best 10.98 seconds in the semifinal.
Smiling throughout her interview, Daniels was happy to be part of history.
"She just ran 10.61," she exclaimed.
"I felt good. I did. I felt good. I was honestly just really blessed to be in that moment; I've had a very long season of ups and downs, so to finish it as an individual finalist, that's special," Daniels said.
She said her indoor season "went OK," but at the start of the outdoor season she wasn't performing as she expected. After the Mt. SAC meet in early May, she took a six-week break from competing and focused on training.
"Probably six of the hardest weeks I've ever had," she said. "We worked really, really hard to get me in the shape I'm in now, so I can't be upset about it."
Since the 100 is a marquee event and there being no real fans in the stands beyond coaches and other athletes, the lights inside Tokyo Olympic Stadium were brought down and the straightaway became a screen, showing each woman's name and flag as she was introduced.
All of it was something Daniels had dreamed of.
"I have watched when Shelly-Ann won the 100 in 2012 so many times, and I dream of having that exact moment, and I know it's going to come," she said.
It has now been since 1996 when Gail Devers won her second of back-to-back golds that an American woman officially won the Olympic 100. Marion Jones won in 2000 but was subsequently stripped of her gold after she was found to be part of the BALCO steroid scandal.
Thompson-Herah and Fraser-Pryce were stellar in the early rounds, with such great starts and ahead by so much in their first two races that they were both able to throttle down and breeze over the finish line. Not going full-out meant they reserved at least some energy heading into the final, key since the scheduling of the races didn't afford much time to recover.
The most surprising result from the semis was British racer Dina Asher-Smith. The silver medalist at the 2019 World Championships was third in her heat but her time of 11.05 seconds was not fast enough to advance. Asher-Smith is the reigning 200 world champion, so she will get a chance to redeem herself starting Monday.
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