Thompson-Herah defends Olympic 100m title in 10.61, Jamaican sweep

NBC Olympics’ Liam Nee reports:

Elaine Thompson-Herah broke Florence Griffith-Joyner’s 1988 Olympic record Saturday in Japan to successfully defend her 100m title from the Rio Games, extending her nation’s gold-medal streak to four straight in a Jamaican podium sweep.

Her time, 10.61, dethrones fellow countrywoman Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce for the designation of world’s fastest woman alive. The defending world champion, winner of the two Olympic golds prior to her compatriot’s title defense, took silver for her seventh Games medal and fourth in the event, something no sprinter’s ever accomplished, not even Usain Bolt.

Shericka Jackson, the 2016 Olympic 400m bronze medalist, earned another to complete the country’s first sweep of the event since 2008.

Entering the Tokyo Games, Fraser-Pryce, Thompson-Herah and Jackson were the respective first-, second- and fourth-fastest women in the world this year.

Along with Ivorian Marie-Josee Ta Lou the trio blazed through the semifinals earlier in the night as the top four qualifiers into the final. Ta Lou was the fastest in the first round.

Following an introduction lightshow reminiscent of the 2019 World Championships in Doha, Qatar, the two Jamaicans got out to a blistering start, both well out ahead after the first 40 meters. Fraser-Pryce had the quicker reaction time on paper, but Thompson-Herah surged midway with a mighty turnover and flew across the finish while pointing to the clock.

Thompson-Herah’s the fourth woman to win two Olympic golds in the women’s 100m, joining Fraser-Pryce and Americans Griffith-Joyner and Gail Devers. She also won the 200m in Rio, accomplishing the first women’s sprint double since Flo-Jo’s dual world-record performances in Seoul. Since 2018, an Achilles injury but occupied a bulk of the 29-year-old’s attention during the Olympic cycle. A flare up at the 2019 World Championships forced her to pull out of the 200m.

Fraser-Pryce clocked 10.63 in June to record the fastest women’s 100m in nearly 33 years. At the time, it was the fourth-fastest ever run behind three marks by Griffith-Joyner.

Flo-Jo’s second-best effort after her elusive 10.49 world record is 10.61, matched by Thompson-Herah to elevate the Jamaican to No. 2 all time.

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