Elaine Thompson-Herah was trudging down the track with six steps remaining before she reached the finish.
She knew she was the winner.
It was just a matter of what would follow.
She won the 100m in 10.61 seconds. This is the latest in a long line of Jamaican speed athletes. Florence Griffith Joyner, who held the 33-year-old Olympic record for 100 meters, was broken by her. She also revisited a debate that was started by Usain Bolt, the fastest Jamaican.
Yes, the gold medal was great as was Flo Jo’s venerable record. The question was inevitable: Just like Bolt’s hotdogging to victory in the 2008 Olympics, many wondered what Bolt would have done if he had given up. How much faster could Thompson-Herah have run if she ran 100 meters and not 90 or 95?
She said, “I believe I could have gone quicker if I wasn’t pointing out and celebrating, really.” “But to show that there is more. I hope to be able to unleash it one day.”
She was the second fastest woman to finish the night. Flo Jo’s 10.49 world record is the only one left.
She beat Shelly-Ann Fraser, a two-time Olympic champ, and she joined bronze medalist Shericka Jack in the first Jamaican podium sweep since 2008.
Fraser-Pryce stated, “The legacy that we have in Jamaica has been incredible.”
With all the chaos, Thompson-Herah felt it was fitting to draw comparisons with Bolt. Bolt redefined sprinting with his antics and speed. He left track and field with nine wins in nine sprints after leaving the Olympic scene in 2016.
The 6-foot-5 speedster won his first victory. He was ahead of the rest in Beijing, when he raised his hands to celebrate and began his celebration just before he crossed the finish line. His 9.69 seconds was a world record. The world was stunned — even the then-IOC President Jacques Rogge criticized Bolt’s move and wondered what would have happened if Bolt had made it through the line.
A year later, he answered the question when he dropped the mark to 9.58 at Berlin’s world championships.
Thompson-Herah believes she will get another chance to do that.
She said, “I have more years.” “I am only 29. I’m not thirty. I’m not forty. I am still working.
Thompson-Herah began to pull away from Fraser-Pryce early on a hot night at Tokyo’s Olympic Stadium. It was a runaway by the 50-meter mark. She won by 0.13 seconds or three body lengths. This was a stunning win in a 100-meter final.
Jackson, who was a bronze medalist at 400m five years ago and then moved to the shorter sprints in Tokyo Olympics, won bronze in this race in 10.76.
Flo Jo’s previous mark of 10.62 was at the 1988 Seoul Olympics. This was just a few years after she ran the 10.49 in Indianapolis on a sunny day. For decades, debate has raged about whether the marks are legit, and the longer they held up, the more amazing the records seem.
Since Flo Jo’s day, no Olympic champion had broken 10.7. As Thompson-Herah approached the finish, she insisted that she wasn’t certain she would. She said that she knew that she won.
“The pointing, it’s not clear to me what it means. She said it to show she was clear.
Thompson-Herah has now been firmly rooted in a long list Jamaican women’s track stars, a string that some claim is even better than the men’s. Long before Fraser-Pryce, a brace-faced 21-year-old from Beijing, took to the center stage in Beijing, the Caribbean island was putting out greats like Merlene Ottey or Veronica Campbell-Brown.
In 2008, she finished first. This second-place finish completes her Olympic set in 100. She now has two golds (’08 and ’12), a silver and a bronze from 2016.
She looked stunned that she was so far behind her main competitor on a track that had produced fast times in the first two days.
After Thompson-Herah hotdogged it to the end, the woman they call “Mommy” (she has a 3-year old son, Zyon) stared at the scoreboard, looking stone-faced. She stood on the track, her hands on her hips, and stood there, stone-faced.
Her popularity was high due to her June 10.63, which she ran in June. This showed that she is still in great form two years after she won the 2019 world championship title.
Fraser-Pryce said, “Ofcourse you’re disappointed,” despite only being two years away from her pregnancy. “Athletes should only be looking for victory.”
This was something that even the Olympic champion didn’t see coming. Fraser-Pryce was in peak form but Thompson-Herah was not. She was suffering from an Achilles injury which slowed her down all the way to Jamaica’s national championships.
Thompson-Herah stated, “Two years ago, probably a year and a half ago, I didn’t think that I’d be here today.” “I kept my cool. “I believed in myself.”
Even though American Sha’Carri Richardson was not at home due to a doping negative for smoking marijuana at U.S Olympic trials, the women’s 100 was still considered the best race at the Olympics. It was ahead of Bolt-less men’s sprint.
To emphasize that point, Trayvon Bromell (the American sprinter) finished fourth in his qualifying heat earlier on the evening. He had to wait almost an hour to find out if he would be granted one of the three wild-card spots in Sunday’s semifinal round.
When asked about the run, he said that he did and that he had no words to describe it.
Another surprise was the Olympic debut of mixed 4×400 relay. Poland won gold while Alexander Ogando from the Dominican Republic sat second.
Men’s discus was the other medal event of the evening. Simon Pettersson and Daniel Stahl led a 1-2 Swedish finish. The Swedes wore flags on their shoulders as they jogged down the backstretch of the grass during a celebration in front the empty stands.
Shortly after, the real running began and Thompson-Herah found her way to a place she was familiar with, first at the Olympics, but with a time that no woman had ever seen: 10.61
Next up is the 200 where Thompson-Herah will be the defending champion. It’s easy to see her leaving the Olympics with three gold medals and a few questions, much like Bolt did.