Elaine Thompson-Herah blew away the field to defend her title in the women’s 100m on Saturday, setting a new Olympic record and beating fellow Jamaicans Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Shericka Jackson into second and third, respectively.
The 29-year-old from Kingston had a flawless start and led with Fraser-Pryce until the 60-metre mark before accelerating away and putting space between her and the rest of the field to win by 0.13 seconds.
It was an emphatic and seemingly comfortable win for the defending Olympic champion, who had struggled with achilles injuries in recent years. On Saturday, she showed that she had not only recovered but had never given up on her potential, made clear by her joyous celebration at the finish.
"I couldn't find the words. I screamed so loud because I was so happy," said Thompson-Herah, who will also attempt to retain her 200m title in Tokyo.
"Last month I didn't think I would stand here to retain my title. I've struggled with my (Achilles) injury for five years and for me to stay focused, hold my composure … there's nothing more to prove."
There was much anticipation in the lead up to the final. Triple Olympian and two-time gold-medalist, Shelly-Anne Fraser-Pryce had been the favourite for many as she looked to make history as the first woman to win three Olympic golds in the 100m.
It wasn’t to be. Despite a strong start the 34-year-old, who had set a new Jamaican record in June and looked so comfortable in the semi-finals, seemed to tighten up and fall back as Thompson-Herah surged ahead with 40 metres to go. The latter went on to set a new national and Olympic record and began celebrating before she had crossed the line.
Fraser-Pryce, who was looking to add to her 100m wins in 2008 and 2012, had clocked 10.73s to top the semi-final time lists but was unable to improve on that mark.
"To represent the way that I did, it's truly remarkable, it's my fourth Olympic Games, it's just about being committed and working hard," said Fraser-Pryce, who also spoke afterwards about her pride of participating as a mother.
“I am excited because as a mother and my fourth Olympics to be able to stand again on the podium is just a tremendous honour. I am hoping wherever in the world, mothers, athletes, females we understand that there is so much more we can achieve.”
With this win, Thompson-Herah has matched Fraser-Pryce’s Olympic success in the 100m. And with the next summer OlympicGames just three years away in Paris, it is highly possible the 29-year-old will go one better. The new Olympic record holder did not give the impression that she was done.
"I think I could've gone faster if I wasn't pointing and celebrating early. I wanted to show that there is more in store, so hopefully one day I can unleash that," said Thompson Herah, who broke a 33-year-old Games record set by Florence Griffith Joyner at the 1988 Seoul Olympics.
It was a blistering final, with six of the eight sprinters coming in under 11 seconds, but it was also a final missing two of the event's biggest names.
World No 2, Dina Asher-Smith of Great Britain, just missed out on a place in the final, finishing 0.05 seconds short of the second fastest loser from the semi-finals. She revealed in an emotional post-race interview with the BBC that she had suffered from a hamstring injury just five weeks before the Olympic Games. She also announced that she was withdrawing from the 200m, which she won at the 2019 World Championships.
American Sha'Carri Richardson missed the Olympic Games due to suspension after testing positive for a banned recreational substance. She had run 10.64 in June.
Whether either athlete would have beaten Elaine Thompson-Herah to the gold will be forever unknown. However, the Jamaican trio capitalised on the absences in the field to complete the sweep, repeating the same feat as in Beijing in 2008. To date, no other country has achieved the 1-2-3 in women’s sprinting.