It was a 1-2-3 for Jamaica, with Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce taking silver and Shericka Jackson claiming bronze
As a delirious Elaine Thompson-Herah lay on the track looking up at twinkling lights of Tokyo’s Olympic Stadium, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce stood with her hands on her hips staring at the big screen, waiting to find out whether she had won silver or bronze.
It was silver, in a Jamaican one-two-three with Shericka Jackson taking bronze, but it was little consolation. Fraser-Pryce came here to wrestle back the 100m Olympic crown she had won in Beijing and London. Instead her teammate and long-time rival Thompson-Herah defended her Rio title emphatically with an Olympic record 10.61 sec, the second fastest time in history.
That feat was almost more astounding than the gold medal. Florence Griffith Joyner’s time of 10.62 had stood since the Seoul Games in 1988, but it always looked in danger this week as a rapid set of heats and semi-finals hinted at a thrilling final to come on a hot and sticky night in Tokyo. And how it delivered.
The two were drawn next to each other in lanes three and four. When Fraser-Pryce came out of her drive phase she had the lead and it all seemed to be going to form. The 34-year-old’s career is enjoying an autumn bloom and her world lead time this season of 10.63, combined with victory over Thompson-Herah in the Jamaican trials, made her the favourite coming to the Games.
But once Thompson-Herah lifted her head and opened her stride, she pulled level. She possess a springy style which looks almost like she’s jumping down the track, and the 29-year-old’s younger legs bounced into the distance in the final 30m as Fraser-Pryce began to tense.
The gap was enough that even before she’d crossed the line Thompson-Herah was pointing to the Jamaican team’s contingent in the stands and letting out a howl. Then she was screaming, jumping, clutching her forehead in disbelief, perhaps more at the time than the victory – she has been here before of course. It was all too much, and she collapsed in a heap.
Jackson was delighted with her bronze medal in a personal best 10.76. Britain’s Daryll Neita finished eighth after Dina Asher-Smith had earlier missed on the final and withdrawn from the 200m with an injured hamstring.
“God is amazing,” Thompson-Herah said. “I’ve been struggling, I see all the bad comments, I see everything, for me to stay focused and keep my composure. I use them as my motivation, to take me here today, more than enough. I felt it, I’m so excited to celebrate early, I’m grateful. I’m lost for words right now, that is amazing.”
Fraser-Pryce was philosophical. She is an extraordinary woman: an academic, a mother, an Olympic champion. She will be 37 at the next Games in Paris and it seems unlikely we will see her again on this stage, but given what we know about Fraser-Pryce it would be foolhardy to rule it out.
“It wasn’t the best 30, I had a stumble and I never recovered from it," hun sa. “I’m grateful to be out here. I’m excited as a mother, my fourth Olympic games, we understand there is so much more we can achieve. It’s crazy, my emotions are still very raw right now, I’ll go home and have some tears. I’m really excited about what I was able to do right now.”