Thompson-Herah hungry for more; wants to help team to relay gold
BUDAPEST, Hungary — Despite enduring one of her worst seasons since she announced herself on the international track and field scene about eight years ago, double Olympic Games sprint double champion Elaine Thompson-Herah thinks she has more to achieve.
Thompson-Herah, who will only participate in the sprint relays at the 19th World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary — the first time she will not contest an individual event since 2015 — says once she is in shape anything is possible, even breaking the women’s 100m world record 10.49 seconds held by the late American Florence Griffiths-Joyner since 1988.
After a training session in Budapest on Friday under the watchful eyes of her new coach Shaniekie Osbourne, Thompson, who is still battling Achilles injuries, declared: “I will still keep fighting because I do believe I am the greatest female sprinter of all time, and until it is proven I do believe I can repeat what I have done before.”
Her Jamaican national record 10.54 seconds is only behind Flo-Jo’s record, and Thompson-Herah said the world record, while not at the forefront of her mind, is also within reach.
“Once I’m in shape, anything is possible,” she stated. “Even the word [impossible] says ‘I’m possible’, so my main focus right now is not even the world record, just to be back fit and healthy and back on my top speed.”
Thompson-Herah said once conditions were perfect and there was competition, “once we work on what phase is what the procedure or the process to get us back to 10.48 or even 10.43 seconds”.
Her struggles started last year when she could only manage third place in the 100m at the World Championships in Eugene, Oregon, in a Jamaican sweep that saw Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce win and Shericka Jackson take the silver medals.
This year, hobbled by injuries, she managed to place fifth in the women’s 100m finals at the JAAA national championships after just two weeks of preparation, and wondered how much faster she could have gone with better preparation.
“It’s just unfortunate that I’m not able to participate in an individual event this year but the fact that I’ve been struggling this season, you know, I think I have speed in me but because of the injury that prevented me from doing that… National trials tell me that I still have a lot because it takes me two weeks to prepare and I got to an 11.0 and an 11.1 that, if I had gotten more work into that, I probably could have booked my spot individually. But…God put you in places sometimes to prepare for something that has come in big, and I know and I can feel that something bigger and better is coming and I’m just gonna be patient and wait for what God have in store for me, even though this season was a test.”
Thompson-Herah said even after the national championships she was ordered to rest again but relishes “being back in practice, in spikes, feeling good of course”.
Osbourne, she said, was brought in on a temporary basis for the remainder of the season, and if it works out she could be her coach for the future, after she worked out with her husband Darren last year.
Asked if she would return to the MVP camp where she started, Thompson-Herah answered with a blunt “No, I won’t.”
She explained her decision to add Osbourne to her team. “It was something in my mind from a year and a half ago, you know, wanted her to come on the team and I think after the [National] Trials I thought: ‘Okay. Why not invite her to come, to be a part, feel her out now before we start the 2024 season,’ ” said Thompson-Herah.
She bristled at the thought that her not being 100 per cent healthy could affect the chances of the women’s 4x100m team winning a gold medal. “First and foremost, I will never jeopardise my team; if I know I’m not fit I [would] not be here. And I’m happy that I was selected on the squad to help my team to qualify for the 4x100m, and I know we can win that gold so my duty is to help them qualify — and that’s why I’m here,” she said.