Thompson-Herah on same level as Usain Bolt after history-making sprint double
Only Usain Bolt had ever defended the 100 and 200 metres sprint double at the Olympic Games. Now Elaine Thompson-Herah has joined the elite club.
Elaine Thompson-Herah joined some esteemed company by completing a 100 and 200 metres double at the same Olympics on Tuesday.
The Jamaican sprint star backed up her sensational triumph in the shorter distance, where she posted an Olympic record 10.61 seconds, to win the half-lap race in 21.53s.
In doing so, Thompson-Herah repeated the double she completed at Rio 2016 and is the first female athlete to defend each sprint title.
Indeed, only one runner has ever done so and that person happens to be the legendary Usain Bolt, who actually achieved the accolade of winning both races on three straight occasions.
Here, Stats Perform remembers the superstar duo's memorable moments of glory.
Rio 2016 – 100m
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce was attempting to become the first woman to win the 100m title at three straight Olympics but injuries had plagued her 2016 season and she could only finish third. Instead, it was Thompson-Herah who won gold for Jamaica in a time of 10.71s. "When I crossed the line and glanced across to see I was clear I didn't quite know how to celebrate. There is a big screen back home in my community in Jamaica. I can't imagine what is happening there right now," she said on that occasion.
Rio 2016 – 200m
Only a few days later, Thompson-Herah became the first woman since Florence Griffith-Joyner in 1988 to do the double in the women's premier sprint events (Marion Jones had done so in 2000 but later had her medals stripped). Then world champion Dafne Schippers tried to reel in her rival on the home stretch, but there was no stopping Thompson-Herah who crossed the line first in a time of 21.78s. "I know Dafne is a strong finisher, so I knew I had to have a strong finish, as well, just keep my composure and execute straight to the line," she said of the win.
Tokyo 2020 – 100m
Injuries had plagued Thompson-Herah in the intervening years but her form was peaking ahead of reaching these Games. And it all came together beautifully on Saturday when Thompson-Herah sprinted an Olympic-record time of 10.61s to lead a Jamaica one-two-three (Fraser-Pryce and Shericka Jackson completed the podium) and defend her 100m title. "I could have gone faster if I wasn't pointing and celebrating early. But that shows there is more in store, so hopefully, one day, I can unleash that time," she said.
Tokyo 2020 – 200m
Just like in 2016, Thompson-Herah backed up one dominant triumph with another. A time of 21.53 made her the second-fastest woman over 200m and also meant she could celebrate a place in the history books. She said: "Honestly I just need to sleep, I have not slept since the 100 metres, honestly my body is in shock mode, but I still had my composure to come out here. It feels good to be in the history book, to set a barrier for the other generation of athletes coming up because we have got a lot of athletes coming from Jamaica, it means a lot to me to set this barrier."
Beijing 2008 – 100m
The legendary Bolt started his era of domination in Beijing 13 years ago. In the 100m final, he ran a then world-record time of 9.69s despite easing up down the closing metres. "I wasn't bragging. When I thought I had the field covered I was celebrating. I was happy. I didn't know I'd broken it until my victory lap." With his victory, Bolt became the first men's 100m champion from Jamaica.
Beijing 2008 – 200m
At that same Games, Bolt became the first sprinter to break the 100 and 200m records at the same Olympics to take out the latter title in an astonishing time of 19.30s. Accused of jogging towards the line in earlier heats, Bolt delivered on a promise to run flat out in a dominant final. "I was worried [I might not break the record] after the semis. But I told everybody I would leave everything on the track and I did just that. I've proved I'm a true champion and that with hard work anything is possible," Bolt said.
London 2012 – 100m
Bolt had been beaten by a young pretender in the form of compatriot Yohan Blake in both 100 and 200m races in the 2012 season. But come Games time, it was Bolt who once again reigned supreme – clocking an Olympic record 9.63s (he had beaten his world benchmark from Beijing by this point) to defend the gold. "I tell you people it's all about business for me, and I brought it. When it comes down to business, I know what to do. The crowd were wonderful. I could feel that energy. I feel extremely good and happy," Bolt said.
London 2012 – 200m
An ever-relaxed Bolt enjoyed more success when he again came out on top against Blake in the 200m, winning with a time of 19.32s. In doing so, he became the first man to defend the 200m title and first to complete the 100-200m double twice. On the moment of history, he said: "I've got nothing left to prove. I've showed the world I'm the best and, right now, I just want to enjoy myself. This is my moment. I'll never forget this."
Rio 2016 – 100m
Bolt was by no means the favourite heading into his third Olympics four years ago, with long-time American rival Justin Gatlin holding the season's best prior to the Games. In the final, Bolt came good by defeating Gatlin by 0.08s. With this victory, Bolt became the first person to win the 100m title three times. In front of a jubilant crowd in Brazil, Bolt said: "It wasn't perfect today, but I got it done and I'm pretty proud of what I've achieved. Nobody else has done it or even attempted it."
Rio 2016 – 200m
He would again back up 100m glory in the 200m race, becoming the first man to win the 200m title three times despite having limited runs over the distance in the build-up to the Olympics. He ran a 19.78s to beat Canada's Andre De Grasse. "The fact I came here and executed what I wanted to is a brilliant feeling. I wasn't happy with the time when I crossed the line but I'm excited I got the gold medal - that's the key thing," Bolt said.
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