Pre Diamond League Women — A 100 For The Ages

Elaine Thompson-Herah ran a brilliant 10.54, trouncing Sha’Carri Richardson in the process. (KEVIN MORRIS)

EUGENE, OREGON, August 21 — The fastest women’s 100 ever? We think so, as the promised sprint showdown at the Pre Classic yielded a stunning Jamaican sweep in the same order as Tokyo, Elaine Thompson-Herah blistering the track in a magnificent 10.54, again showing why for many she has a claim to being the fastest woman ever.

In one of the most hyped-up races ever, the stakes couldn’t have been higher. The top 4 from Tokyo (and 6 of 8 finalists) dared to come to Eugene to face OT winner Sha’Carri Richardson, the 10.72 phenom whose cannabis positive kept her off the U.S. squad. Richardson’s sponsor, Nike, added fuel to the fire with a commercial saying, “I’ll be at the finish line, waiting.”

All 9 lanes were filled, with Richardson front and center in 5. To her right, Olympic champion Thompson-Herah; to her left, silver medalist Shelly Ann Fraser-Pryce. In lane 3, bronze medalist Shericka Jackson, while the Tokyo 4th-placer, Marie-Josée Ta Lou, stood in 7 and Teahna Daniels in 1.

At the gun, Fraser-Pryce got out best, as usual, with Richardson out worst; Thompson-Herah was somewhere in between. At 20m Fraser-Pryce and Jackson ran even with a surprising Daniels. Before midway, an erect Thompson-Herah had left her drive phase and hit maximum velocity, passing SAFP for the lead as Jackson and Daniels slipped back.

Crossing the line and hitting the finish banner nearly 2m clear of the field, the 29-year-old 2-time Olympic champion was timed in 10.54 with an aiding wind of 0.9, a reading infinitely more credible than the 0.0 that was given to the ratified WR of 10.49 that Florence Griffith Joyner set in ’88.

Behind ETH, SAFP hit 10.73, Jackson tied her best at 10.76, and Daniels smashed hers with a 10.83. Ta Lou came next in 10.90 and Javianne Oliver tied her PR of 10.96.

SAFP and Jackson tied the best-ever marks for 2nd and 3rd (matching their Tokyo times) while Daniels became the fastest 4th ever.

Back in 9th—way back — a deflated Richardson mustered only an 11.14. For the home audience, NBC broadcast a fiery interview with the controversial American star — a bemused SAFP smirking as she walked past — but gave no air time to Thompson-Herah.

The winner, clearly awed by the time that flashed on the board, took a few minutes to grasp it. Once she did, she said that after Tokyo, “I had to set myself back and go, ‘OK, your job is not finished, you have some more Diamond Leagues, some more races.’ I had to get myself together.

“To come back here and run another PB after the championships, that is amazing. I haven’t run that fast in 5 years. It means a lot to me because my job is to inspire the younger generation.”

She added that Flojo’s time now seems in reach, “Definitely because I ran 10.5 and I think I have so much more in me. So yes, it’s possible. I have more races, so I don’t get too excited, too carried away. I have to continue doing the job.”

The dash had been preceded by an American Record in the steeple, Courtney Frerichs chasing Norah Tanui to the finish as each broke the 9:00 barrier as they moved to Nos. 3 & 4 on the all-time list.

The race had gone out aggressively, the lead pack outstripped the pacing lights in the early laps, hitting 1K in 2:55.20. After pacer Roseline Chepngetich dropped, Tanui took over, passing 2K in 5:59.30. By that time Olympic champion Peruth Chemutai had slipped away. Instead, it was Frerichs who shadowed the 25-year-old who had been left off Kenya’s Olympic team.

Going into the final lap, Tanui’s lead started growing, but the splits were fast enough that the crowd realized that Frerichs could make history in defeat. Tanui finished well to cut nearly 6 seconds off her best with an 8:53.65, and Frerichs held on for an 8:57.77 that slashed 3.08 seconds off her U.S. standard set in ’18.

Said the winner, “I was very well-prepared for this race today.”

Frerichs was over the moon to have broken 9:00, just the seventh ever to do so: “We’ve been talking about this for so long, so to finally have it come together is just really, really exciting and has me dreaming about even more now.”

The hits kept coming with the only non-DL event contested on Saturday, an amazing 800, thanks once again to a certain teenager.

Athing Mu, fresh off her gold medal and AR in Tokyo, faced off against a sterling field that included medalists Keely Hodgkinson and Raevyn Rogers, as well as a resurging Kate Grace.

Sprinter Kaylin Whitney took the field out, with Mu already in 2nd at 200 (27.1) ahead of Jemma Reekie, Natoya Goule and Grace.

Whitney hit halfway in 54.19 before dropping on the turn. Mu passed in 55.4. By 500 she had 10m on Reekie, who in turn was just as far ahead of Goule and Grace. By 600 (1:24.44) it had turned into a rout and Mu wasn’t about to let up. She entered the straight with a 20m lead as Reekie had been swallowed up by the pack and Rogers and Hodgkinson chased Goule and Grace.

Mu, showing the strain, slowed some as she approached the line, but still crossed in 1:55.04, breaking her own national standard to move to No. 8 all-time. Grace outleaned Goule for 2nd, 1:57.60-1:57.71, and Rogers (1:58.01) and Hodgkinson followed (1:58.30).

Said Mu, “I knew this was going to be a little tougher since I came off the Olympic Games and a PR there. I wasn’t really looking at times. I was just going to come out here, run with whoever was out here and just be competitive as usual.”

The 1500 showcased Olympic champion Faith Kipyegon, who decided early on to leave it all out there. She followed rabbit Chanelle Price closely, with silver medalist Laura Muir a step behind. Price hit 400 in 62.41, Kipyegon 62.7. By 600, Muir had started slipping back, leaving the Kenyan alone in chasing the clock.

Price hit 800 in 2:04.35, Kipyegon in 2:04.9. The gap to the rest now gaped to 20m. At the bell (2:51.5), Kipyegon made it clear the fans were in for a treat. She hit 1200 in 3:06.71, her lead about 50m. She drove hard through the final 300 to clock a meet record 3:53.22, history’s No.7 performance.

Australian Linden Hall won the race for 2nd in 3:59.73, just ahead of Josette Norris’s 4:00.07 for 3rd in her first DL race. Muir faded all the way to 12th in 4:05.92.

For Kipyegon, it was the No. 3 performance of her career — and of ’21: “I’ve run the best that I could.”

In the absence of Sydney McLaughlin, who has apparently called it a year, Dalilah Muhammad ruled the 400H, tearing out fast from the start to build a massive lead over OT 4th-placer Shamier Little. She triumphed by more than a second, flashing a smile when she saw 52.77 come up on the board.

Little held on for 2nd in 53.79, ahead of Gianna Woodruff’s Panamanian Record 54.20, as Anna Ryzhykova (54.40) and Janieve Russell (54.50) flipped their Olympic places.

“You never know what that first race is going to be like after a big championship,” said Muhammad, “so I’m just happy to come home with the win.”

A windy 200 saw Switzerland’s Mujinga Kambundji beat bronze medalist Gabby Thomas for the first time, 22.06w–22.11w with a 2.4 wind, as Dina Asher-Smith looked healthy in 3rd (22.19w).

The only women’s field events were the vertical jumps. In the vault, Olympic champion Katie Nageotte needed 8 tries at three heights to win at 15-9¾ (4.82) over Britain’s Holly Bradshaw (15-5¾/4.72).

“I felt like I was just gassed,” admitted Nageotte. “I wasn’t expecting that. I was excited to come in. I felt good in the warmups and then it just crashed. So I’m really, really proud that I came away with the win.”

In the high jump, Vashti Cunningham and Iryna Herashchenko both cleared 6-6 (1.98) but a tie forced them into a long jump-off, the exhausted principals matching each other at 5 different bars before Cunningham missed at 6-4¼ (1.94) and the Ukrainian didn’t.


100(0.9): 1. Elaine Thompson-Herah (Jam) 10.54 NR (WL) (1, 1 W) (BGB adjusts to 10.60 with zero wind/altitude—x, 2 W);

2. Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (Jam) 10.73; 3. Shericka Jackson (Jam) 10.76 =PR (=11, x W); 4. Teahna Daniels (US) 10.83 PR; 5. Marie-Josée Ta Lou (CI) 10.90; 6. Javianne Oliver (US) 10.96 =PR; 7. Mujinga Kambundji (Swi) 10.96; 8. Briana Williams (Jam) 11.09; 9. Sha’Carri Richardson (US) 11.14.

(best-ever mark-for-place: =2, =3, 4)

200(2.4): 1. Kambundji 22.06w; 2. Gabby Thomas (US) 22.11w; 3. Dina Asher-Smith (GB) 22.19w; 4. Jenna Prandini (US) 22.36w; 5. Dezerea Bryant (US) 22.39w; 6. Lynna Irby (US) 22.50w; 7. Brittany Brown (US) 22.51w; 8. Allyson Felix (US) 22.60w.

Non-DL 800: 1. Athing Mu (US) 1:55.04 AR (old AR 1:55.21 Mu ’21) (WL) (8, x W) (27.1, 28.3 [55.4], 29.0 [1:24.44], 30.60) (55.4/59.6);

2. Kate Grace (US) 1:57.60; 3. Natoya Goule (Jam) 1:57.71; 4. Raevyn Rogers (US) 1:58.01; 5. Keely Hodgkinson (GB) 1:58.30; 6. Halimah Nakaayi (Uga) 1:58.78; 7. Ajee’ Wilson (US) 2:00.21; 8. Jemma Reekie (GB) 2:00.27; 9. Sabrina Southerland (US) 2:01.87;… rabbit—Kaylin Whitney (US) (54.19).

1500: 1. Faith Kipyegon (Ken) 3:53.23 (x, 7 W) (3:06.71);

2. Linden Hall (Aus) 3:59.73; 3. Josette Norris (US) 4:00.07; 4. Winnie Nanyondo (Uga) 4:00.72; 5. Shannon Osika (US) 4:01.16; 6. Gabriela DeBues-Stafford (Can) 4:01.74; 7. Tigist Ketema (Eth) 4:02.44; 8. Helen Schlachtenhaufen (US) 4:02.78; 9. Edina Jebitok (Ken) 4:04.32; 10. Gaia Sabbatini (Ita) 4:04.55; 11. Jessica Hull (Aus) 4:05.33; 12. Laura Muir (GB) 4:05.92; 13. Winny Chebet (Ken) 4:29.00;… rabbit—Chanelle Price (US) (62.41, 2:04.35).

St: 1. Norah Tanui (Ken) 8:53.65 PR (WL) (3, 3 W) (U.S. all-comer’s record) (5:59.30);

2. Courtney Frerichs (US) 8:57.77 AR (old AR 9:00.85 Frerichs ’18) (4, 6 W);

3. Hyvin Jepkemoi (Ken) 9:00.05; 4. Winfred Yavi (Bhr) 9:04.27; 5. Celliphine Chespol (Ken) 9:07.07; 6. Gesa-Felicitas Krause (Ger) 9:07.61; 7. Peruth Chemutai (Uga) 9:10.87; 8. Mekides Abebe (Eth) 9:18.71; 9. Marisa Howard (US) 9:22.69 PR; 10. Alycia Butterworth (Can) 9:28.68 PR; 11. Regan Yee (Can) 9:44.63; 12. Elizabeth Bird (GB) 9:59.51;… rabbit—Rosefline Chepngetich (Ken) (2:55.20).

(best-ever mark-for-place: 2–3)

400H: 1. Dalilah Muhammad (US) 52.77; 2. Shamier Little (US) 53.79; 3. Gianna Woodruff (Pan) 54.20 NR; 4. Anna Ryzhykova (Ukr) 54.40; 5. Janieve Russell (Jam) 54.50; 6. Nnenya Hailey (US) 55.16; 7. Rhonda Whyte (Jam) 55.57; 8. Leah Nugent (Jam) 55.86; 9. Sage Watson (Can) 56.52.

Field Events

HJ: 1. Iryna Herashchenko (Ukr) 6-6 (1.98) (5-10½, 6-0, 6-1½, 6-2¾ [2], 6-4, 6-5, 6-6 [2], 6-6¾ [xxx]) (1.79, 1.83, 1.87, 1.90 [2], 1.93, 1.96, 1.98 [2], 2.00 [xxx]) (jumpoff—6-6¾ [x], 6-6 [x], 6-5 [x], 6-4¼ [x], 6-3½, 6-4¼) (2.00 [x], 1.98 [x], 1.96 [x], 1.94 [x], 1.92, 1.94);

2. Vashti Cunningham (US) 6-6 (1.98) (6-0, 6-1½, 6-2¾, 6-4, 6-5 [xp], 6-6 [2], 6-6¾ [xxx]) (1.83, 1.87, 1.90, 1.93, 1.96 [xp], 1.98 [2], 2.00 [xxx]) (jumpoff—6-6¾ [x], 6-6 [x], 6-5 [x], 6-4¼ [x], 6-3½, 6-4¼ [x]) (2.00 [x], 1.98 [x], 1.96 [x], 1.94 [x], 1.92, 1.94 [x]);

3. Kamila Lićwinko (Pol) 6-2¾ (1.90); 4. Yuliya Levchenko (Ukr) 6-2¾; 5. Rachel McCoy (US) 6-2¾; 6.tie, Alessia Trost (Ita) & Erika Kinsey (Swe) 6-0 (1.83); 8. Jelena Rowe (US) 5-10½ (1.79).

PV: 1. Katie Nageotte (US) 15-9¾ (4.82) (15-1¾ [3], 15-5¾ [2], 15-9¾ [3]) (4.62 [3], 4.72 [2], 4.82 [3]);

2. Holly Bradshaw (GB) 15-5¾ (4.72) (14-10 [2], 15-1¾ [2], 15-5¾, 15-9¾ [xxx]) (4.52 [2], 4.62 [2], 4.72, 4.82 [xxx]);

3. Olivia Gruver (US) 14-10 (4.52); 4. Morgann LeLeux (US) 14-4 (4.37); 5. Anicka Newell (Can) 14-4;… nh—Iryna Zhuk (Blr), Katerína Stefanídi (Gre).