Elaine Thompson evokes the best of Flo-Jo: Best of Olympics Day 12
The National’s sports team is helping you keep up to date with what is happening in Rio while most of us in the UAE were sleeping. Here is today’s Daily 5.
1 Doing the double
Sprinting has, for a very long time, had to navigate the tension between exulting in its great achievements and the suspicion that inevitably surrounds anything that seems too good.
Florence Griffith-Joyner is one of track’s trickiest subjects, in that regard.
Her performance at the Seoul 1988 Olympics is the stuff of legend. She won the coveted 100m-200m double, setting world records in both. Records that stand to this day.
Because of that, and because of the era in which she did that, it carries a whiff of too-good-to-be-true, although nothing concrete has ever tied her to doping.
Since those ’88 Olympics, for nearly 30 years no one has even approached Flo-Jo’s heights. Increased specialisation in the 100m and 200m, tighter anti-doping monitoring and probably a dose of plain old chance has left the peaks of women’s sprinting a bit dusty.
Fortunately, this year has given us Elaine Thompson.
Thompson isn’t exactly putting Griffith-Joyner’s records under threat, but she’s at least evoking that same kind of excellence. The Jamaican on Wednesday completed the first 100-200 double since Flo-Jo in South Korea, a remarkable feat considering the legendary Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce hadn’t been able to do it four years ago.
Her 10.71s time in the 100m was the best at an Olympics since Griffith-Joyner when she ran it last week. Her 21.78s mark in the 200m last night was the second-best for an Olympics in the last 28 years.
If Flo-Jo’s records indeed are beyond the actual limits of natural human accomplishment, if they’re going to sit there unbreakable until the end of time, it’s nonetheless pretty exciting to see someone like Thompson come along, perform like this and know we’re seeing sprinting at just about its best.
And, lucky for us, the 24-year-old should be back in four years’ time in Tokyo. Maybe even better. Maybe, maybe, even able to give those old Seoul records a scare.
2 Big tent
Dig around enough, and you happen upon some weird trends at the Olympics.
The South Koreans own archery. Table tennis belongs to the Chinese. Did you know Germany and France are both really great at equestrian? They are.
Wednesday gave us not one, not two, but three women’s freestyle wrestling golds by Japan. The United States won not gold, not silver, not bronze, but all dang three in the women’s 100m hurdles.
Eri Tosaka won the 48kg class in freestyle wrestling, Kaori Icho won 58kg, and then Sara Dosho made it a hat-trick in the 69kg division.
Meanwhile over in the hurdles Brianna Rollins, Nia Ali and Kristi Castlin went 1-2-3, for each of the letters in U-S-A.
This kind of niche dominance can be one of the funnier features of the Olympics. This year has also given us British cycling supremacy, great Italian shooting displays and Russian fencing magnificence.
For years at a time a bunch of these sports lurk beneath the surface of the global conscious, and then the Olympics spring up and it turns out there’s a corner of the world (somewhere in Japan, in this case) that treats women’s freestyle wrestling like Brazil treats football.
• More: See more on Japan’s wrestlers
3 Other highlights from Day 12
• Germany’s Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst dashed home hopes for a gold in beach volleyball.
• China took the men’s table tennis team gold, making it another Chinese clean sweep of the four gold medals offered in the Olympics in the sport. They did this in 2012, in London, too. And in 2008 on home soil in Beijing. In the history of table tennis at the Olympics, in fact, there have been only four non-Chinese gold winners, South Korea’s Ryu Seung-min in 2004 being the last.
• The United States leads in the medal count with 93 (30 gold), followed in golds by China (54 overall) and Great Britain (50 overall). We’re keeping track of all the gold medal winners.
4 Tweet of the day
It’s been a very rough Olympics for boxing. Few have been as outspoken about the sport’s issues at the Games as Irishman Michael Conlan:
5 Video of the day
I’m not sure why the Olympics tweeted this clip from the 2012 Olympics. But, hey, it’s cool!
Published: August 18, 2016 04:00 AM