Tokyo 2020: Elaine Thompson-Herah sets sights on historic sprint 'double-double'

Jamaican sprinter aiming to become first woman to successfully defend 100m and 200m Olympic titles

Elaine Thompson-Herah has already entered the record books at the Tokyo Olympics but the Jamaican sprint champion is far from done as she aims to follow her 100m title defence with another in the 200m on Monday.

Thompson-Herah, 29, stormed to the 100m gold on Saturday with a new Olympic record time of 10.61sec, breaking a 33-year-old mark set by Florence Griffith-Joyner at the Seoul Games in 1988. It also ensured Thompson-Herah claimed successive 100m golds following her triumph at the 2016 Rio Games.

Thompson-Herah, the reigning 200m Olympic champion, now turns her attention to retaining her other sprint title in what would be an unprecedented women's "double-double".

She begins her 200m campaign with the opening heats on Monday and will have to significantly improve her personal best of 21.66sec, set in Beijing in 2015, to surpass Griffith Joyner's Olympic and world record of 21.34sec, also set at the Seoul 1988 Games.

Yet after her 100m win on Saturday, Thompson-Herah says as far as her future is concerned, "anything is possible". Asked if she believed Griffith Joyner's 100m world record was attainable, she said: "Most definitely.

"I think I could have gone faster if I wasn't pointing and celebrating early. I wanted to show there was more in store. Hopefully one day I can unleash that time."

Thompson-Herah admitted that she had surprised even herself with her performances in Tokyo so far. Earlier this year she was still struggling for form and fitness, troubled by a sore Achilles.

She finished third in both the 100m and 200m at the Jamaican Olympic trials in June, where Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, whom she beat for gold on Saturday, won both races.

"I never expected to run this fast," Thompson-Herah said. "Even though I felt great during the rounds, sometimes in the finals you get nerves. Behind this 10.6 was a lot of nerves. But I said 'You can do this, you've been here before, just execute'."

However, the 200m is likely to pose a stiffer challenge for Thompson-Herah.

Although one obstacle has been removed, with the injury to Great Britain's Dina Asher-Smith that forced the reigning 200m world champion to withdraw from Monday's opening rounds, there are pitfalls lurking throughout the field.

She will again have to lock horns with compatriot and rival Fraser-Pryce, who set the world's second fastest time this year with 21.79 sec at the Jamaican trials.

Fraser-Pryce and Thompson-Herah could both be upstaged by rising American star Gabby Thomas, who became the second fastest woman in history over 200m when she clocked a world-leading 21.61 sec at the US trials in June.

Thomas's startling performances in Oregon raised the prospect of Griffith-Joyner's 200m world record potentially being in play.

The Harvard graduate is cautious about whether she thinks a world record is achievable.

"I don't want to say 'no'," Thomas said. "But I don't want to put a limit on myself. So I'm not going to say it's unattainable."

Updated: August 1st 2021, 10:18 AM
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