Track and Field·TRACK ROUNDUP

Elaine Thompson-Herah repeats as Olympic 100-metre champion in Games-record time

Elaine Thompson-Herah successfully defended her Olympic title in the women's 100 metres on Saturday, crossing the line in 10.61 seconds to lower Florence Griffith Joyner's Summer Games record by 1-100th of a second. Canada's Andre De Grasse advanced to the men's semifinals in a season-best 9.91.

Fraser-Pryce, Jackson part of Jamaican medal sweep; De Grasse tops in men's heats

Elaine Thompson-Herah led a Jamaican sweep of the medal podium on Saturday, successfully defending her Olympic gold in the women's 100 metres in a Summer Games record 10.61 seconds at Tokyo Olympic Stadium. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Sprinters from across the world, led by Jamaica's Elaine Thompson-Herah and Canada's Andre De Grasse, ruled the Olympic Stadium track Saturday in Tokyo.

Thompson-Herah successfully defended her Olympic title in the women's 100 metres, pointing at the scoreboard before crossing the line in 10.61 seconds to lower Florence Griffith Joyner's 33-year-old Summer Games record by 1-100th of a second.

The 29-year-old led a Jamaican sweep, with her top rival Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (10.74) and Shericka Jackson (in a personal-best 10.76) rounding out the medal podium. It was the first Jamaican sweep of the medals since the women did it at the 2008 Beijing Games.

"I think I could have gone faster if I wasn't pointing and celebrating, really," Thompson-Herah said. "But to show you that there's more in store. Hopefully one day I can unleash that time."

WATCH | Thompson-Herah wins back-to-back Olympic 100m gold:

Thompson-Herah leads Jamaican sweep of 100m podium

2 months ago
3:42
Elaine Thompson-Herah took gold with an Olympic record time of 10.61 seconds, followed by fellow Jamaicans Shelly-Ann Fraser-Price with silver and Shericka Jackson with bronze. 3:42

Fraser-Pryce was aiming to become the first woman to win the 100 metres at three Games — she was victorious in 2008 at Beijing and four years later in London. She is headed for a possible rematch in the 200 with Thompson-Herah, the defending champion.

Canada's Crystal Emmanuel and Khamica Bingham failed to qualify for their first Olympic final in the 100, placing 16th and 18th in the semifinals, respectively, on Saturday.

Emmanuel, an eight-time national champion in the 100, crossed the line in 11.21 while the 27-year-old Bingham went 11.22 in a separate semifinal.

Emmanuel, 29, is scheduled to race in her third Olympic 200 competition on Monday in Japan — her stronger event of the two sprints — with the first of seven heats starting Sunday in Canada at 9:30 p.m. ET.

She sports a season-best 22.83 from Canadian Olympic trials on June 26 in Montreal while her 22.50 personal best occurred on July 18, 2017 in Ireland.

British medal hope Dina Asher-Smith, who was second to Fraser-Pryce in the 2019 world championship final, didn't advance to Saturday's with her 11.05 semifinal effort and later withdrew from the 200, an event she won at worlds two years ago.

De Grasse was the story of the men's 100 heats, parlaying a strong start out of the blocks to a season-best 9.91, just 1-100th of a second off his PB from a bronze medal performance at the 2019 world championships in Doha, Qatar.

He was the top qualifier for the semifinals Sunday evening in Japan (6:15 a.m. ET in Canada). The final is scheduled for 8:50 a.m. ET.

As impressive as De Grasse's time was, the 26-year-old's ability to stay mentally focused after enduring false starts by Great Britain's Reece Prescod and Divine Oduduru of Nigeria. Oduduru, the 2019 NCAA champion in the 100, was disqualified for his infraction while Prescod advanced to the semifinals in 10.12.

"My coach [Rana Reider] just told me, 'React, listen to the [start] gun and your top end [speed] is there. If you get out [of the starting blocks] with everyone, the race is yours,'" De Grasse told CBC Sports's Devin Heroux in Japan, minutes after his race.

WATCH | De Grasse runs blistering 9.91 on Saturday:

Andre De Grasse advances to 100m semifinals with fastest time of all heats

2 months ago
2:53
Canada's Andre De Grasse runs 9.91 seconds and moves on to the 100m semifinals 2:53

'Not at all concerned what times he has run'

CBC Sports analyst Donovan Bailey, who won Olympic 100 gold 25 years ago in world record time, wondered recently if De Grasse was "playing possum" in the leadup to the Tokyo Games and could win gold in the 100 and 200.

De Grasse's previous best of 9.99 in the 100 this year dated to his season opener on April 17 at the Tom Jones Memorial Invitational in Gainesville, Fla., and only once in seven races had the athlete from Markham, Ont., dipped under 10 seconds in a legal wind.

"I'm really not worried about [his recent] results and not at all concerned what times he has run," Bailey said in a recent phone interview with CBC Sports. "It is crazy for anyone to believe that anytime you step on the track you're going to break a world record.

"I'm more concerned he's injury-free and been consistent."

WATCH | The 100 metres, explained:

CBC Sports Explains: The 100m dash

2 months ago
7:06
The 100m dash is the most electrifying 10 seconds in sports. Usain Bolt and Florence Griffith Joyner have been on top of the world for years, being the earth's fastest humans. But how fast can humans really run, and have we reached our peak? 7:06

Gavin Smellie of Brampton, Ont., and Toronto's Bismark Boateng ran 10.44 and 10.47, respectively, but didn't qualify for the semifinals.

Trayvon Bromell, who arrived in Tokyo as the gold medal favourite of many, had to wait about 90 minutes before learning he had advanced to the semis after clocking 10.05 in his heat. The 26-year-old American has a season world-leading time of 9.77.

It was a tough Saturday for the Nigerian team, which also learned of the provisional doping ban handed sprinter Blessing Okagbare, who holds the Commonwealth Games record of 10.85 in the women's 100.

According to track and field's Athletics Integrity Unit, she "tested positive for human growth hormone" in an out-of-competition test on July 19.

Meanwhile, Lamont Jacobs of Italy set a national record with a 9.94 clocking — second only to De Grasse across seven semifinal heats — while Daryll Neita of Great Britain ran an 11-flat PB to advance to the final by 1-1000th of a second over Michelle-Lee Ahye of Trinidad and Tobago. Neita was last of eight runners in the final in 11.12.

Kokoutse Fabrice Dabla of Togo was also DQ'd in the heat following Prescod and Oduduru.

In other medal events Saturday:

  • Poland won gold and Alexander Ogando of the Dominican Republic sprawled over the line to edge out the Americans for second in the Olympic debut of the mixed 4x400 relay. The U.S., which was disqualified from the preliminary heat the previous night, only to be reinstated after an appeal, settled for bronze. Allyson Felix, who spearheaded a win in this race two years ago at the world championships, was not in the lineup.
  • Daniel Stahl and Simon Pettersson led a 1-2 Swedish finish in men's discus. The Swedes draped flags over their shoulders and jogged on the grass down the backstretch during a celebration in front of a near-empty stadium.

WATCH | Poland downs the U.S. in exciting mixed 400-metre relay debut:

Poland wins gold with thrilling finish in 4 x 400m mixed relay

2 months ago
6:22
The Polish team won the Olympic debut of the 4 x 400m mixed relay with the Dominican Republic holding on for silver and the United States taking bronze. 6:22

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Doug Harrison has covered the professional and amateur scene as a senior writer for CBC Sports since 2003. Previously, the Burlington, Ont., native covered the NHL and other leagues for Faceoff.com. Follow the award-winning journalist @harrisoncbc

With files from The Associated Press

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