Elaine Thompson-Herah ran the joint second fastest time in history as she retained her Olympic 100m crown on Saturday ahead of pre-race favourite Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce in a Jamaican podium sweep.
Thompson-Herah, who won the sprint double at the Rio Olympics in 2016, had come into the blue riband event very much in the shadow of Fraser-Pryce.
At 34, and having had time out to have a baby, Fraser-Pryce was seeking to become the first woman to win a single individual Olympic event three times having previously triumphed in the 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Games.
But Thompson-Herah was quick out of the blocks, hitting a top speed of 39.7km/h (24.7mph) down the straight in a 68,000-capacity Olympic Stadium empty of fans because of coronavirus restrictions in the Japanese capital.
Fraser-Pryce reeled her teammate in at the 50-metre mark, but Thompson-Herah dug deep to pull away for a memorable victory in 10.61 seconds, beating by one-hundredth of a second the previous Olympic best set by American Florence Griffith-Joyner at the 1988 Seoul Games.
Only Griffith-Joyner has run faster than the Jamaican, having set the world record of 10.49 at the 1988 US Olympic trials — a day before also timing 10.61.
Fraser-Pryce raced home in 10.74 for silver, while Shericka Jackson clocked a personal best of 10.76, with the first six sprinters all dipping below the 11-sec mark.
“I knew I had it in me but obviously I’ve had my ups and downs with injuries,” said Thompson-Herah. “I’ve been keeping faith all this time. It is amazing.
“I’m grateful I could get back on the track, and get back out on the track this year to retain the title. Now I have one more to go,” she added in reference to the 200m, with heats on Monday.
The first round of the men’s 100m threw up some surprises as American Trayvon Bromell, who owns the fastest time this year of 9.77sec, only scraped through as a fastest loser after finishing fourth in his heat.
US teammates Ronnie Baker and Fred Kerley also went through, while an impressive-looking Andre De Grasse of Canada topped times with 9.91sec.
“It is a season’s best and I am really looking forward to tomorrow night. I am ready to go,” said the Canadian who won bronze in the event in Rio in 2016.
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