Olympic Women’s 200 — Make Mine A Double-Double

Elaine Thompson became the first ever to win an Olympic 100/200 double twice, and she did it back-to-back. (KIRBY LEE/IMAGE OF SPORT)

ONLY A VERY ELITE FEW WOMEN have successfully completed a 100/200 double at the Olympics. It’s now an exclusive 7-member club that began with Fanny Blankers-Koen in ’48 when the long dash was introduced to the program. None of them managed to come back and do it again at the next Olympics… until Elaine Thompson-Herah on a sizzling day in Tokyo’s Olympic Stadium ran the fastest half-lap time in the world in the last 33 years.

She did it, she says, by believing she could, by battling all of her doubts in the 5 years since Rio by every day writing down her list of goals. Every day.

“It’s on my phone. I’ve written it down daily,” she said. “Defending my title, setting new PBs. Right now I can tick those things off.”

After Saturday’s 100 victory, Thompson-Herah and her fellow doublers rested Sunday. Then on Monday they had 200 heats in the morning and semis in the evening. That was a switch from recent Games, where the three 200 rounds were held on three consecutive days. Not since Sydney in ’00 have there been two rounds on the same day. “This is definitely different,” said Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce. “I am tired. My eyes look like somebody punched me.”

The formchart got jumbled before the first gun even fired, with favored Dina Asher-Smith revealing an injury after her failure to make the 100 final and withdrawing.

The heats then took out 100 bronze medalist Shericka Jackson, who eased up before the line to finish a non-qualifying 4th in 23.26 — despite being a medal contender with her recent 21.82 PR.

Another plot line emerged in the running of Christine Mboma, who had been forced out of the 400 by WA’s DSD protocols on testosterone. With a shocking rush on the final straight, she caught premeet fave Gabbi Thomas before the line, 22.11–22.20. The Namibian’s time was a World Junior Record and a substantial improvement on her 22.67 best.

The plot thickened in the semis. Fraser-Pryce won the first in 22.13. In the second, Thompson-Herah faced off against Mboma and Thomas. She blasted a 21.66 to tie her best. Behind her, once again Mboma appeared to loaf the turn, then hit the gas on the straight. She tagged Thomas with another WJR, 21.97–22.01. The third section went to Marie-Josée Ta Lou in 22.11. Americans Jenna Prandini (5th, 22.57) and Anavia Battle (6th, 23.02) didn’t make the cut.

For the final ETH drew prime real estate in lane 7, while world leader Thomas was not so well-placed in 3. SAFP would be in 4, Mboma 5, Ta Lou 6 and on the outside another serious contender in Rio 400 champ Shaunae Miller-Uibo.

When the action exploded, Fraser-Pryce produced the best start but her teammate was into the lead a moment later. Aggressively hammering the turn, Thompson-Herah had a clear lead by the 100 marker. Behind her, Fraser-Pryce held 2nd, with Thomas in close pursuit. Miller-Uibo was out of it.

Thompson-Herah never faltered, her lead growing on her final drive. She hit the line in 21.53, a time second only to Flojo’s WR 21.34. Behind her, just as Thomas pulled even with Fraser-Pryce with 20m to go in her drive for silver, Mboma flew past them both. The teenager, only 7th at the halfway point, had moved far faster than anyone — including Thompson-Herah — down the stretch. She crossed the line a foot ahead of Thomas in a shocking 21.81, another WJR.

Thomas’s 21.87 netted her bronze while SAFP hit 21.94, the fastest 4th in history. Ta Lou’s 22.27 didn’t put her near the medals in 5th. Miller-Uibo jogged in last in 24.00.

“I am happy,” said the winner. “I’m overwhelmed. I’m lost for words. I never thought this day would come, even though the work was put in already. There’s more that I am looking forward to accomplish, but it’s an amazing feeling to be amongst the greatest.”

The rookie Mboma explained her drive thusly, “I just saw some athletes and pushed past them. I don’t know who they were.”

Thomas radiated joy about her bronze: “I really worked for that one. I fought tooth and nail over those last 30m. I gave it my best effort and I am really happy that effort came out with a medal.”

[Oh, and for trivia buffs, these are the 5 doublers between FBK and ETH: Marjorie Jackson (Australia) ’52, Betty Cuthbert (Australia) ’56, Wilma Rudolph (US) ’60, Renate Stecher (East Germany) ’72, Florence Griffith-Joyner (US) ’88.]


(August 03; wind +0.8) (temperature 82F/28C; humidity 82%)

1. Elaine Thompson-Herah (Jam) 21.53 NR (WL) (2, 2 W);

2. Christine Mboma (Nam) 21.81 WJR, NR, NJR (old WJR 21.97 Mboma in semis);

3. Gabby Thomas (US) 21.87;

4. Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (Jam) 21.94;

5. Marie-Josée Ta Lou (CI) 22.27;

6. Beatrice Masilingi (Nam) 22.28 PR (5, =10 WJ);

7. Mujinga Kambundji (Swi) 22.30;

8. Shaunae Miller-Uibo (Bah) 24.00.

(lanes: 2. Kambundji; 3. Thomas; 4. Fraser-Pryce; 5. Mboma; 6. Ta Lou; 7. Thompson-Herah; 8. Masilingi; 9. Miller-Uibo)

(reaction times: Fraser-Pryce 0.141, Miller-Uibo 0.145, Kambundji 0.147, Ta Lou 0.150, Thomas 0.159, Masilingi 0.166, Mboma 0.169, Thompson-Herah 0.173)

HEATS (August 02)

I(0.3)–1. Ta Lou 22.30; 2. Miller-Uibo 22.40; 3. Grace Nwokocha (Ngr) 22.47 PR; 4. Gloria Hooper (Ita) 23.16; 5. Ana Carolina Azevedo (Bra) 23.20; 6. Olga Safronova (Kaz) 23.64.

II(0.4)–1. Fraser-Pryce 22.22; 2. Masilingi 22.63 NR; 3. Dafne Schippers (Neth) 23.13; 4. Lisa Marie Kwayie (Ger) 23.14; 5. Rafailía Spanoudáki-Hatziríga (Gre) 23.16; 6. Lucia William (SSD) 25.24; 7. Najma Parveen (Pak) 28.12.

III(-0.2)–1. Kambundji 22.26 =NR; 2. Anavia Battle (US) 22.54; 3. Gemima Joseph (Fra) 22.94; 4. Jael Bestue (Spa) 23.19 PR; 5. Inna Eftimova (Bul) 23.42.

IV(0.7)–1. Mboma 22.11 NR, WJR (old WJR 22.18 Allyson Felix [US] ’04 (=1, =1 WJ);

2. Thomas 22.20; 3. Aminatou Seyni (Nig) 22.72; 4. Rhodah Njobvu (Zam) 23.33; 5. Jessica-Bianca Wessolly (Ger) 23.41; 6. Vitoria Cristina Rosa (Bra) 23.59; 7. Dutee Chand (Ind) 23.85.

V(-0.3)–1. Anthonique Strachan (Bah) 22.76; 2. Lorène Dorcas Bazolo (Por) 23.21; 3. Dalia Kaddari (Ita) 23.26; 4. Shericka Jackson (Jam) 23.26; 5. Ivet Lalova-Collio (Bul) 23.39; 6. Shanti Veronica Pereira (SGP) 23.96.

VI(0.4)–1. Crystal Emmanuel (Can) 22.74; 2. Beth Dobbin (GB) 22.78; 3. Thompson-Herah 22.86; 4. Imke Vervaet (Bel) 23.05 PR; 5. Phil Healy (Ire) 23.21.

VII(0.9)–1. Jenna Prandini (US) 22.56; 2. Gina Bass (Gam) 22.74; 3. Riley Day (Aus) 22.94; 4. Maja Mihalinec Zidar (Slo) 23.62; 5. Kristina Knott (Phi) 23.80.

SEMIS (August 02)

I(0.3)–1. Fraser-Pryce 22.13; 2. Masilingi 22.40 PR (=8, x WJ); 3. Strachan 22.56; 4. Day 22.56 PR; 5. Prandini 22.57; 6. Schippers 23.03; 7. Bazolo 23.20; 8. Kwayie 23.42.

II(0.3)–1. Thompson-Herah 21.66 =PR (6, =7 W);

2. Mboma 21.97 NR, WJR (old WJR Mboma 22.11 in heats);

3. Thomas 22.01; 4. Bass 22.67; 5. Dobbin 22.85; 6. Emmanuel 23.05; 7. Joseph 23.19; 8. Hooper 23.28; 9. Spanoudáki-Hatziríga 23.38.

III(0.1)–1. Ta Lou 22.11; 2. Miller-Uibo 22.14; 3. Kambundji 22.26 =NR; 4. Nwokocha 22.47 =PR; 5. Seyni 22.54 NR; 6. Battle 23.02; 7. Vervaet 23.31; 8. Kaddari 23.41. ◻︎

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