Olympics: History beckons for McPherson in women's 400m finalThursday, August 05, 2021
TOKYO, Japan – No Jamaican woman has ever won gold in the women's 400m at the Olympic Games.
Jamaican women have dominated the shortest sprint since the 2008 Games in Beijing, China, winning all the gold medals in the 100m – Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce in 2008 and 2012 and Elaine Thompson-Herah in 2016 and 2021.
There has been similar dominance in the 200m, the retired Veronica Campbell Brown winning in 2004 and 2008 and Thompson-Herah in 2016 and 2021, the Jamaican winning streak being interrupted by the American Allyson Felix in 2012.
However, the closest Jamaica has come to landing gold in the one lap event was when Lorraine Graham finished second in Sydney in 2000 and Shericka Williams did the same in Beijing in 2008. Shericka Jackson finished third at the last Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
Women have been competing in the 400m since the Tokyo Games in 1964 and that 57 years wait for a gold medal in the event for Jamaica could come to an end, fittingly in Tokyo this year.
Stephenie-Ann McPherson sits on the cusp of history as she heads into the final of the event with the best time and the greatest opportunity for her maiden global title in the one lap event.
Her only individual global medal came at the 2013 World Championships in Moscow, where she won the bronze medal. She has been back to the finals at every World Championship since then, but has never medaled and she was also a finalist at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio where she finished sixth.
McPherson is enjoying her best season in the event in years, breaking the 50 seconds barrier for the first time since 2013 when she won in a personal best 49.61s at the Jamaica National Championships.
The 32-year-old has been enjoying a renaissance of sorts after contemplating retiring from the sport not so long ago. She has credited the attention she has gotten from her coaches Paul Francis and Stephen Francis at the MVP Track Club this season, for her return to form and came within a whisker of breaking the national record of for the event of 49.30s when she won semifinal three in 49.34s to head into the Olympic final with the fastest time.
She will battle reigning champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo of the Bahamas who won semifinal two in 49.60s and American legend Allyson Felix who finished behind her in the semifinal in 49.89s, as well as her own teammate and first time Olympian Candice McLeod, who ran a new personal best of 49.51s to make it into the final.
However, her toughest competitor in the final could be Marileidy Paulino of the Dominican Republic who won semifinal one in a new personal best of 49.38s to position herself as one of the gold medal favourites. Paulino has already won a silver medal in the mixed 4x400m at these Games and will be highly motivated.
McPherson won her semifinal, easing up to conserve energy, indicating there is a lot left in the tank and should she execute a similar race in the final, while finishing strong, she could crown herself in glory. The final will be run at 7:35am local time.
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