Thompson-Herah embarks on defence of sprint doubleSaturday, July 24, 2021
BY HOWARD WALKER
One of the most memorable Jamaican performances at the Olympic Games, since its debut in 1948, came in 2016 in Rio, Brazil, when Elaine Thompson-Herah stunned the athletics world with a 100m and 200m double gold medal.
She became the first Jamaican female sprinter to win the double at the Olympic Games and only the second behind the incomparable Usain Bolt who did it, not once, but three times.
But Thompson-Herah is in a league of her own as no other Jamaican woman has achieved such greatness at the Olympics.
In fact, Thompson-Herah's accomplishment has only been achieved seven times since the start of the modern Olympics in 1896.
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce came closest at the 2012 London Olympics, winning the 100m and silver in the 200m.
Veronica Campbell-Brown won the 200m at the 2004 Olympics, while placing third in the 100m. Juliet Cuthbert copped silver in both events at the 1992 Games and Merlene Ottey also won two silver at the 1996 Atlanta Games.
Entering the 2016 Rio Olympics, not many people gave Elaine Thompson-Herah a chance of winning either the 100m or the 200m as her compatriot Fraser-Pryce was hunting a historic third-consecutive 100m Olympic crown. The American hope Torie Bowie and Dafne Schippers of the Netherlands were both touted for gold.
But Thompson-Herah went about her business, clocking 11.21 in her heats, which was the second slowest of all the winners. Fraser-Pryce was fastest in the first round with 10.96.
In the semi-final Elaine stepped up her game and threw down the gauntlet, clocking 10.88, the same as Fraser-Pryce, with Schippers Bowie and Michelle-Lee Ahye of Trinidad and Tobago all stopping the clock at 10.90.
But, in the final, Thompson-Herah found another gear and won, going away from a quality field in 10.71, which was just beyond her personal best of 10.70. American Bowie was second in 10.83 and Fraser-Pryce copped bronze in a season's best 10.86.
Thompson-Herah would return days after to wrap up the historic double, capturing the 200m in a world leading 21.78 ahead of Schippers (21.88) who had defeated her the year before at the World Championships. Bowie got bronze in 22.15.
Thompson-Herah's unique double was the first in 28 years at the Olympic Games since American Florence Griffth-Joyner at the 1988 Olympic Games.
Thompson-Herah told the Jamaica Observer that there were a lot of names out there running good times and for her to cop the double was simply amazing.
“I neither felt or knew I would win the double,” she revealed.
“It was my first Olympic, with a lot of names there who had experience of an Olympics. But, once you have prepared properly, the results will definitely come with it,” she pointed out.
“Standing on the podium was just a joyous feeling, knowing that I wasn't predicted or expected to win,” Thompson-Herah added.
She had the rare privilege of having Jamaica's national anthem played twice for her, individually – a feeling that gives her “goose bumps”.
The 100m is considered the marquee event for Thompson-Herah, her 200m victory was sweeter.
“Because 2015 I got caught at the line, I was very satisfied knowing that I did exactly what I had to do and not get caught again,” said Thompson-Herah.
But her chapter at the Olympic Games is far from over as she is days away from defending her titles, and could very well create more history with another double. Only time will tell.
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