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Thompson-Herah Successfully Defends

 

 7 31 21 Jackson and Herah

July 31st, 2021

 

The beauty of track & field is its simplicity and its clarity. There is no "judging". There are no "style points." Our sport is not "subjective." It's all about who jumps the highest, throws the farthest, and runs the fastest. Period. And today - the day of the women's 100m final - we witnessed one of the most stunning global 100m championship races ever as Jamaican Elaine Thompson-Herah set a new Olympic Record of 10.61 to earn the title of "World's Fastest Woman."

As has long been the protocol, on this final day of the women's 100m journey to the podium, the lady sprinters faced a double challenge: first competing and advancing in the semifinal round and then summoning up their best effort in the same-day final.

For the most part, the semi-final round played out true to form. Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce - considered by many as the greatest female 100m dash athlete of all time - showed she is peaking just at the right time, winning her semi easily with an impressive winning time of 10.73 - the fastest women's 100m clocking in Olympic history. Her compatriot and the reigning Olympic 100m champion Elaine Thompson-Herah showed she is ready for a title defense with her 10.76 in her semi. Shericka Jackson - a third Jamaican - advanced with 10.79. Ivory Coast's Josee Ta Lu, who had clocked an Olympic best mark of 10.78 in her preliminary round, shined again with a 10.79 in her semi. Also making the final were Switzerland's Mujinga Kambundji [10.96], Teahna Daniels [10.98] - USA's only finalist; Great Britain's Daryll Neita [11.00], and second Swiss athlete Ajla Del Ponte [11.01]

7 31 21 Elaine Thompson Herea

IMG_2019.jpgElaine Thompson Herah battled achilles pain, to come back, defend Rio 2016 title in Tokyo 2020, photo from London 20217 by Mike Deering, The Shoe Addicts for RunBlogRun

In all of the 100m races - men's and women's - the Olympic officials have shown no tolerance for athletes who twitched, rocked, or otherwise engaged in any sort of pre-pistol movements. There has been no hesitation by the refs to pull out that red card and send violators to the showers. As expected, the sprinters have adjusted, taking care to remain still in the blocks. You'd expect that caution to curb fast times. But no, the sprint times have been fast, impressive, and widespread.

In the women's 100m final, the absence of a packed stadium did not diminish the pervasive anticipation for this long-awaited final. As the finalists stood behind their blocks, swaying back and forth and awaiting instructions from the officials, it became apparent that this final would be a race of two tiers: the three Jamaicans [Fraser-Pryce; Thompson; and Jackson] and Ivory Coast athlete Ta Lou comprising the quartet likely to battle for the medals; and the foursome of the two Swiss sprinters [Kambundji and Ponte] and Neita, the Brit, and Daniels, the lone American - the talented athletes ready to strike if any of the top four faltered.

With the crack of the starter's pistol, it was immediately clear that Fraser-Pryce had not delivered her customary rocket start - her most potent sprint weapon. Thompson-Herah, the defending champion, matched Shelly Ann's start and the battle was on. Unthreatened by the rest of the field, the Jamaican duo was linked, stride for stride, for 80 meters as a blanket finish was anticipated. An extra push by Thompson-Herah over the final 20 meters created separation from her Jamaican rival so clear that Elaine offered a celebratory point at the infield clock before roaring across the line. Thompson-Herah's finishing time of 10.61 evoked quite a post-race celebration as the winner, quickly draped with the Jamaican flag, whooped and hollered with her successful title defense and with her finishing time: now #2 on the all-time world list and the fastest Olympic w100m time ever. Fraser-Pryce, 2nd in 10.74, masked her disappointment but was nonetheless gracious. Her silver medal will join her three previous Olympic 100m medals [two gold and one bronze]. Those four Olympic medals now make her the most decorated Olympic 100m athlete of all time.

Shericka Jackson finished 3rd to complete the Jamaican sweep. She crossed the line in 10.76 - the fastest 3rd place performance ever in the women's Olympic 100m final. The bronze medal she will receive at Sunday's medal ceremony will go nicely with Olympic bronze medal Jackson earned finishing 3rd in the women's 400m final at the 2016 Rio Games.

Ta Lou [10.91] finished 4th - as the top tier finalists finished in the top four spots as anticipated. Del Ponte [10.97] got up for 5th followed by her Swiss teammate Kambundji [10.99] in 6th. USA's Daniel [11.02] finished 7th and Great Britain's Neita [11.12] came in 8th.

After the championship race, a poised Fraser-Pryce reflected on the Jamaican 100m sweep, her country's sprint heritage, and its impact on its athletes. "I can't just imagine if we didn't have the pandemic what would be happening in Jamaica, just speaking about the legacy that we have back home, all the athletes, young and old," offered Shelly-Ann. "You are all inspired by something that happened tonight, we were just really excited that we were able to come and to have a wonderful show tonight."

Thompson-Herah, who joins Fraser-Pryce as a two-time Olympic gold medalist at 100 meters, had to overcome an array of injury issues to make it to Tokyo. In a post-race conversation, she explained how she was able to rise above those challenges and perform like no other before her.  "I believe in myself. But I didn't expect to run this fast, even though I felt great during the rounds. There was a lot of nerves, but I said to myself, 'you can do this, you've been here before, just execute it'" Elaine was asked whether or not she could equal Usain Bolt's record of three consecutive Olympic sprint titles in Paris in 2024 - just three years away. Before departing, she provided a straightforward answer. "Well, I have more years to compete. I am just 29 now, I'm not 30, I'm not 40. I'm still working." / Dave Hunter /

Other Day Two Highlights

mLJ: JuVaughn Harrison qualified for the final of the men's long jump which will be held Monday morning. The final of the men's high jump will take place Sunday evening. A tough double awaits the American jump phenom who is seeking to win gold in both events - an Olympic feat only conquered once: 109 years ago by American sports legend Jim Thorpe.

w800: The American 800m trio had mixed results in today's semi-final round. 19-year old Athing Mu breezed through her semi, racing wire-to-wire in a apparently effortless 1:58.07. World championship silver medalist Raevyn Rogers [1:59:28] advanced to the final on time by the slimmest of margins: 0.01 seconds. And, in a surprise, American record holder Ajée Wilson [2:00.47] failed to advance.

mDT: In the final of the men's discus, the podium performers were: Bronze: Austria's Lukas Weisshaidiner; Silver: Sweden's Simon Pettersson; Gold: Sweden's Daniel Stahl. USA's Sam Mattis finished 8th.

Mixed 4x400m Relay: In the inaugural final of the mixed 4x400m relays, Poland earned the first gold medal in this nascent event clocking 3:09.87 - a new Olympic record. A terrific homestretch drive by the Polish anchor sealed the gold medal. A diving finish by Domincan Republic anchor earned them 2rd in 3:10.21 while the USA [3:10.22] captured the bronze.

m100m: In the preliminary round of the men's 100 meters, all three American sprinters [Ronnie Baker (10.03); Trayvon Bromell (10.05), and Fred Kerley (9:97) ] advanced to the semi-final round to be held Sunday evening.

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TAFWA Award

Dunaway AwardAt the 2019 annual meeting of the Track and Field Writers of America, Dave was presented with the James Dunaway Memorial Award “for track & field journalism excellence.”

2020 Mid-American Conference Indoor Track & Field Championships

Dave HunterOn February 28-29, Dave served as the Color Analyst on the live ESPN3 broadcast of this championship gathering. Coverage of this 2-day conference championship can be viewed on the ESPN app.

Dave Hunter

Dave HunterDave Hunter is a track & field journalist, announcer, and broadcaster.  Dave reports on the premier track & field gatherings around the globe, frequently serves as an arena or stadium announcer for championship events, and has undertaken foreign and domestic broadcast assignments in the sport.

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