Olympic Women’s 100 — As Fast As They Get

Even with some 100ths probably lost to premature finger-pointing, Elaine Thompson dashed to arguably the best women’s 100 ever. (KIRBY LEE/IMAGE OF SPORT)

WITH THE EYES OF THE WORLD upon her, Elaine Thompson-Herah faced off against arch-rival Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and delivered probably the fastest 100 ever (see chart), defending her title in a stunning Olympic Record 10.61 into a minor wind. (Continued below)

The momentum for this had been building all season, ETH coming to Tokyo with a 10.71 season best, while SAFP, the ’08 and ’16 gold medalist, had raced the fastest time of her life, 10.63, before soundly beating her rival at the Jamaican Trials.

The heats were faster than expected, even in this super-shoe era, as ETH ran the fastest first round ever at the Games, a 10.82. Marie-Josée Ta Lou bettered that with a 10.78 two heats later. In the next, Fraser-Pryce hit 10.84. (One heat winner, Nigeria’s Blessing Okagbare, was suspended the next morning for an earlier HGH positive.)

The tension boiled over into the semis. In the first, Thompson-Herah flew to a 10.76. In the second, Ta Lou and third Jamaican Shericka Jackson were inseparable every step of their 10.79, with Ta Lou getting the faint nod. Fraser-Pryce topped them all with a 10.73 in the third.

One of the biggest shocks was the failure of Britain’s Dina Asher-Smith to advance; the WC silver medalist had finished 3rd in her semi in 11.05, but revealed she had been suffering from a hamstring problem and wouldn’t be able to contest the 200, where she had been installed as our favorite. The only American to make the final, Teahna Daniels, qualified on time (10.98 PR).

For the final, with a powerful light show introduction on the track ahead of them, the two lined up side-by-side, ETH in 4, SAFP in 5. Ta Lou stood ready in 6, and to her immediate right was Jackson, who had won the bronze at 400 in Doha, but since had dramatically dropped her 100 best.

The starter fired the electronic pistol: Fraser-Pryce responded in classic “Pocket Rocket” fashion, once again demonstrating the best takeoff in the business. But Thompson-Herah also had a brilliant start, the two being virtually even for the first half of the race. It wasn’t until they ran across the Olympic rings painted on the track at the halfway mark that the defending champ started to gain some separation.

The two champions kept pulling away from the field, but Thompson-Herah found a gear that her rival didn’t. She built a one-stride margin, crossing in an Olympic Record, even though in her final steps she even emulated a certain Sha’Carri Richardson, pointing at the clock as she finished.

A beaten Fraser-Pryce crossed in 10.74, wearing an atypical frown. Close behind was Jackson, completing a Jamaican sweep with her 10.76 PR. Ta Lou, 4th in 10.91, had gotten out quite well but somehow lost her momentum; Jackson had caught her at 50. Next came the two Swiss, Ajla del Ponte (10.97) and Mujinga Kambundji (10.99). Daniels finished 7th in 11.02, ahead of Britain’s Daryll Neita (11.12).

Said the victor, who admitted she had battled Achilles problems this season, “Two months ago, probably a month and a half ago, I didn’t think I would be here today. But I had my composure, I believed in myself, I believed in God. I believe in myself but I didn’t expect to run this fast, even though I felt great during the rounds. There was a lot of nerves but I said to myself, ‘You can do this, you’ve been here before, just execute it’.

“Today I’ve got no more words. I’ve never run this fast. It hasn’t fully soaked in. Probably in a month I can see what it feels like.”

The sweep was the first since Jamaica did it in ’08. The one woman who was part of both, the 34-year-old Fraser-Pryce, said, “We did it again. That’s something that I’m really proud to be a part of.”

“I could have gone faster if I wasn’t pointing and celebrating early,” said the 29-year-old winner, who had started pointing some 7m from the line. “But that shows there is more in store so hopefully one day I can unleash that time.”

Not a banner day for the Americans (who after the Trials had lost the services of Richardson for a cannabis infraction): Jenna Prandini ran 11.11 to finish 4th in her semi, Javianne Oliver 11.08 for 5th in hers. Daniels’ 7th is the lowest U.S. finish since ’48.


(July 31; wind –0.6) (temperature 79F/26C; humidity 57%)

1. Elaine Thompson-Herah (Jam) 10.61 NR (WL) (=1, =1 W— =Florence Griffith-Joyner [US] ’88) <wind/altitude adjusted: 10.57> (OR) (“new millennium WR”);

2. Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (Jam) 10.74;

3. Shericka Jackson (Jam) 10.76 PR (=11, x W);

4. Marie-Josée Ta Lou (CI) 10.91;

5. Ajla Del Ponte (Swi) 10.97;

6. Mujinga Kambundji (Swi) 10.99;

7. Teahna Daniels (US) 11.02;

8. Daryll Neita (GB) 11.12.

(best-ever mark-for-place: =1, 3)

(lanes: 2. Neita; 3. Daniels; 4. Thompson-Herah; 5. Fraser-Pryce; 6. Ta Lou; 7. Jackson; 8. Del Ponte; 9. Kambundji)

(reaction times: Neita 0.108, Del Ponte 0.129, Kambundji 0.138, Fraser-Pryce 0.139, Daniels 0.144, Thompson-Herah 0.150, Jackson 0.152, Ta Lou 0.158)


I(0.3)–1. Natacha Ngoye (Con) 11.47; 2. Maggie Barrie (SL) 11.53; 3. Amya Clarke (StK) 11.67; 4. Djénébou Danté (Mli) 12.12; 5. Hedil Aboud Fethi (Lby) 12.70; 6. Bashair Obaid Al-Manwari (Qat) 13.12 PR; 7. Kimia Yousufi (Afg) 13.29 NR; 8. Rosana Nchama Mbo Nchama Alba (EqG) 13.36 PR; 9. Amed Elna (Com) 14.30 PR.

II(0.5)–1. Farzaneh Fasihi (Irn) 11.76; 2. Azreen Nabila Alias (Mas) 11.77 PR; 3. Mudhawi Al-Shammari (Kuw) 11.82; 4. Regine Tugade (Gum) 12.17; 5. Charlotte Afriat (Mon) 12.35; 6. Silina Pha Aphay (Lao) 12.41; 7. Hsi-En Hsieh (Tai) 12.49 PR; 8. Saraswati Chaudhary (Nep) 12.91; 9. Yasmine Amr Al-Dabbagh (Sau) 13.34.

III(0.8)–1. Joella Lloyd (Ant) 11.55; 2. Asimenye Simwaka (Maw) 11.76 NR; 3. Alfina Tehupeiory (Ina) 11.89; 4. Carla Scicluna (Mlt) 12.11; 5. Hanna Barakat (PLE) 12.16 NR; 6. Mazoon Al-Alawi (Oma) 12.35; 7. Aissata Denn Conte (Gui) 12.43 PR; 8. Matie Stanley (Tuv) 14.52 PR; 9. Houleye Ba (Mau) 15.26 PR.

HEATS (July 30)

I(-0.1)–1. Daniels 11.04; 2. Dina Asher-Smith (GB) 11.07; 3. Murielle Ahouré (CI) 11.16; 4. Manqi Ge (Chn) 11.20; 5. Salomé Kora (Swi) 11.25; 6. Marije van Hunenstijn (Neth) 11.27; 7. Lloyd 11.54; 8. Simwaka 11.68 NR.

II(0.1)–1. Thompson-Herah 10.82; 2. Kambundji 10.95 =NR; 3. Tatjana Pinto (Ger) 11.16; 4. Khamica Bingham (Can) 11.21; 5. Rosângela Santos (Bra) 11.33; 6. Kelly-Ann Baptiste (Tri) 11.48; 7. Vittoria Fontana (Ita) 11.53; 8. Tehupeiory 11.92.

III(-0.4)–1. Alexandra Burghardt (Ger) 11.08; 2. Javianne Oliver (US) 11.15; 3. Anna Bongiorni (Ita) 11.35; 4. Rhodah Njobvu (Zam) 11.40; 5. Xiaojing Liang (Chn) 11.40; 6. Tristan Evelyn (Bar) 11.42; 7. Barrie 11.45; 8. Fasihi 11.79.

IV(-0.3)–1. Ta Lou 10.78 PR; 2. Neita 10.96 PR; 3. Crystal Emmanuel (Can) 11.18; 4. Lorène Dorcas Bazolo (Por) 11.31; 5. Maja Mihalinec Zidar (Slo) 11.54; 6. Angela Tenorio (Ecu) 11.59; 7. Clarke 11.71.

V(1.3)–1. Fraser-Pryce 10.84; 2. Del Ponte 10.91 NR; 3. Grace Nwokocha (Ngr) 11.00 PR; 4. Gina Bass (Gam) 11.12 NR; 5. Rafailía Spanoudáki-Hatziríga (Gre) 11.45; 6. Inna Eftimova (Bul) 11.46; 7. Dutee Chand (Ind) 11.54; 8. Scicluna 12.16.

VI(-0.1)–1. Blessing Okagbare (Ngr) 11.05; 2. Asha Philip (GB) 11.31; 3. Tynia Gaither (Bah) 11.34; 4. Krystsina Tsimanouskaya (Blr) 11.47; 5. Maria Isabel Pérez (Spa) 11.51; 6. Ngoye 11.52; 7. Alias 11.91.

VII(-0.2)–1. Michelle-Lee Ahye (Tri) 11.06; 2. Jackson 11.07; 3. Jenna Prandini (US) 11.11; 4. Diana Vaisman (Isr) 11.27; 5. Hana Basic (Aus) 11.32; 6. Yongli Wei (Chn) 11.48; 7. Jasmine Abrams (Guy) 11.49; 8. Al-Shammari 11.81.

SEMIS (July 31)

I(0.0)–1. Thompson-Herah 10.76; 2. Del Ponte 11.01; 3. Asher-Smith 11.05; 4. Prandini 11.11; 5. Bingham 11.22; 6. Gaither 11.31; 7. Pinto 11.35;… dnc[doping]—Okagbare.

II(-0.2)–1. Ta Lou 10.79; 2. Jackson 10.79; 3. Ahye 11.00; 4. Burghardt 11.07; 5. Oliver 11.08; 6. Emmanuel 11.21; 7. Ge 11.22; 8. Philip 11.30.

III(0.3)–1. Fraser-Pryce 10.73; 2. Kambundji 10.96; 3. Daniels 10.98 PR; 4. Neita 11.00; 5. Nwokocha 11.07; 6. Bass 11.16; 7. Ahouré 11.28; 8. Bongiorni 11.38.

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