A record that was touted to last the test of time was broken on Saturday at the Tokyo Olympics. Elaine Thompson-Herah broke Florence Griffith Joyner’s 33-year-old Olympic record in the women’s 100 metres, crossing the line in 10.61 seconds to defend her title. Griffith Joyner set the old record of 10.62 at the 1988 Seoul Olympics.
The race was dominated by the Jamaicans, who swept the podium, with Thompson-Herah so confident of her timing that she pointed at the scoreboard even before crossing the finish line.
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Thompson-Herah beat her top rival, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, by 0.13 seconds. Shericka Jackson won bronze in 10.76. This was the first Jamaican sweep of the medals since the 2008 Beijing Games. That feat, however, got overshadowed by the record-setting performance by Usain Bolt at the Games.
But, in all fairness, Jamaica has a longer tradition in women’s sprinting. Then men and Bolt came later. Fraser-Pryce finished on top in that 2008 race, and completed her Olympic set in the 100, where she now has two golds (′08, ′12), a silver and a bronze (′16).
Fraser-Pryce and Thompson-Herah could have a possible rematch in the 200. Thompson-Herah is the defending champion there as well. Their rivalry seems to be hitting a peak now, and they are pushing each other. In June, Fraser-Pryce ran the fourth-fastest time in history at 10.63 seconds. It all bodes well for Jamaica.
In Japan, they are blazing the track. In the 100 semifinals earlier Saturday, the Jamaicans all cracked 10.8 to get on the list of the 10 best times in Olympic history.
Then, Thompson-Herah took over. Flo Jo’s records are older than virtually every sprinter in the women’s game, save Fraser-Pryce, who was born about 18 months before the American set the marks. Griffith Joyner’s world record, the 10.49, is still out there, and no other woman has ever broken 10.6.
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Fraser-Pryce came in thinking it could be her, and when she crossed the line in second, she flashed a look of disbelief, then stood stone-faced with her hands on her hips looking at the scoreboard.
Thompson-Herah wasn't surprised. She was looking left toward the clock as she approached the line. She was pointing even before she got there, conjuring memories of Bolt, who celebrated with 10 meters to go when he ran 9.69 to break the men's world record in 2008.
(With inputs from Associated Press)
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