TOKYO: Jamaican Elaine Thompson-Herah won the women’s 100 metres at the Tokyo Olympics on Saturday, defending her Olympic 100m crown and storming to victory in a Olympic record time of 10.61s.
Thompson-Herah led a Jamaican clean sweep of the medals, with two-time champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce taking the silver in 10.74s and Shericka Jackson bronze in 10.76s.
Thompson-Herah’s Olympic record winning time matched the second-fastest time in history of 10.61s set by the late Florence Griffith-Joyner.
Griffith-Joyner, the 1988 Olympic champion, remains the world record holder with a best 10.49s
Thompson-Herah, who won the sprint double at the Rio Olympics in 2016, had come into the blue riband event very much in the shadow of Fraser-Pryce.
At 34, and having had time out to have a baby, Fraser-Pryce was seeking to become the first woman to win a single individual Olympic event three times having previously triumphed in the 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Games.
But Thompson-Herah was quick out of the blocks, hitting a top speed of 39.7kmh down the straight in a 68,000-capacity Olympic Stadium empty of fans because of coronavirus restrictions in the Japanese capital.
Fraser-Pryce reeled her teammate in at the 50-metre mark, but Thompson-Herah dug deep to pull away for a memorable victory in 10.61s, beating by one-hundredth of a second the previous Olympic best set by American Florence Griffith-Joyner at the 1988 Seoul Games.
Only Griffith-Joyner has run faster than the Jamaican, having set the world record of 10.49s at the 1988 US Olympic trials – a day before also timing 10.61s.
Fraser-Pryce raced home in 10.74s for silver, while Shericka Jackson clocked a personal best of 10.76s, with the first six sprinters all dipping below the 11-sec mark.
“I knew I had it in me but obviously I’ve had my ups and downs with injuries,” said Thompson-Herah. “I’ve been keeping faith all this time. It is amazing.
“I’m grateful I could get back on the track, and get back out on the track this year to retain the title. Now I have one more to go,” she added in reference to the 200m, with heats on Monday.
Reuters / CNA