No woman had successfully defended the 100m and 200m Olympic titles, until Elaine Thompson-Herah blitzed her rivals on the Tokyo track in 2021, according to Olympics.com.
“Emphatic. Devastating. Magnificent: Those words accurately described Elaine Thompson-Herah as the Jamaican sprinter made Olympic history with her three track athletics golds at Tokyo 2020 in 2021,” said Olympics.com on Wednesday.
It said the 29-year-old was only third in June’s Jamaican trials over 100m and 200m behind her great rival Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Shericka Jackson.
Fraser-Pryce went second on the all-time women’s 100m list behind Florence Griffith-Joyner with her 10.63 in Kingston, the Jamaican capital, but Thompson-Herah defeated her two weeks later in Hungary with a season’s best 10.71, Olympics.com said.
“It was all set up for a titanic showdown in Japan between the reigning 100m champion and the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 gold medalist,” it said. “Both cruised through the Tokyo heats and the semi-finals with Fraser-Pryce slightly quicker at 10.73 to 10.76.”
Olympics.com said the pair were level at halfway in the final, “but Thompson-Herah appeared to find another gear at 70m and surged clear with Fraser-Pryce just holding off Jackson for silver.
“It was an emphatic triumph, with the winner able to point in celebration five meters from home before screaming with delight, clocking 10.61 for a new Olympic record and the second fastest time in history,” it said.
“Just two days later, they were back for the 200m heats with Thompson-Herah only third in her race but qualifying automatically,” it added. “It was a different story for Jackson, who slowed down too quickly at the end of her heat to finish up in fourth place and out of the competition.”
That evening, Olympics.com said London 2012 silver medalist Fraser-Pryce looked assured in winning her semi-final heat, “but Thompson-Herah — running blind in the outside lane – was quite superb as she flew out of the blocks and ran an excellent bend.
“She was able to relax in the home straight and eased down to cross the line in 21.66, equaling her personal best,” Olympics.com said. “In the final, Fraser-Pryce was able to stay with her compatriot around the bend, but then Thompson-Herah pulled away once more to become the first woman to retain both the 100m and 200m Olympic titles.”
Namibian youngster Christine Mboma came home for second, with USA’s Gabby Thomas taking bronze, as Fraser-Pryce faded in the closing stages, Olympics.com said.
“But they were a long way behind the undisputed sprint queen, whose 21.53 was, like the 100m, the second fastest in history behind the late Griffith-Joyner,” it said. “The celebrations were less jubilant this time round, with victory somewhat expected following her 100m demolition.”
Olympics.com said Thompson-Herah also managed to follow Griffith-Joyner and Usain Bolt in completing an Olympic treble, running alongside Fraser-Pryce and Jackson in Jamaica’s victorious women’s 4x100m relay team, as they went one better than Rio five years ago.
“All of this achieved despite a long-term Achilles injury which has affected her on-and-off since before her famous Rio double,” Olympics.com said.
“I am a top athlete, and I just have to work my way back to the top,” Thompson-Herah told Olympics.com. “And I know one day, this Achilles pain, it all goes away.
“Disappointment makes you better and stronger because I know what I’m facing is this one lingering injury,” he added. “The main thing is putting in the work, and you will get the result that you want one day.”