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Olympics

Elaine Thompson-Herah is the Fastest Woman Alive, Winning 100-Meter Olympic Gold

It was a Jamaican sweep—and an Olympic record—for gold, silver, and bronze in the women's 100-meter dash in Tokyo.

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Elaine Thompson-Herah of Jamaica won the 100-meter dash at the Tokyo Games in 10.61, a new Olympic record. She led a Jamaican sweep of the event, one of the most anticipated of these Olympic Games.

Shelley-Ann Fraser-Pryce took the silver medal in 10.74 and Shericka Jackson won bronze in 10.76.

Although Fraser-Pryce was the fastest out of the blocks, she began to decelerate around 60 meters in and Thompson-Herah surged to create a sizable lead on the field. Even into a 0.6 headwind and an early celebration, Thompson-Herah still helped deliver on what many thought could be the fastest women’s 100-meter Olympic final in history. Six women in the race ran faster than 11 seconds—Marie-Josée Ta Lou of the Ivory Coast was fourth;  Ajla Del Ponte and Mujinga Kambundji, both of of Switzerland, were fifth and sixth in 10.97 and 10.99.

“I could have gone faster if I wasn’t pointing and celebrating early,” Thompson-Herah said. “But that shows there is more in store so hopefully one day I can unleash that time.”

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The previous Olympic record (10.62) was held by Florence Griffith-Joyner, set at the Seoul Olympics in 1988. Flo-Jo’s world record of 10.42 lives another day—it was also set in 1988.

Thompson-Herah now has two Olympic victories to her name in the 100 meters. She also won gold in the event at the 2016 Games in Rio. And Fraser-Pryce is no stranger to Jamaican sweeps—she won gold in 2008, when Sherone Simpson and Kerron Stewart shared the podium, and also was the 2012 Olympic champion. At 34, in addition to giving birth to her son, Zyon, in 2017, her 100-meter Olympic tally: two gold medals, a silver, and a bronze.

“It has definitely been a tough couple of years. Every athlete that comes over here is always aiming to stand on the top of the podium” Fraser-Pryce said. “I’m still really grateful that I was able to come to my fourth Olympic Games, to make the final, and walk away with the silver medal. I definitely have to pick up Elaine and Shericka for a wonderful job. Like in 2008, we did it again in 2021 (2021).”

Jackson said that the one-year delay for the Tokyo Olympics may have worked in her favor. In 2019 she had two stress fractures and struggled to return to form in 2020.

“I am just grateful for all that I have accomplished this year.,” she said. “I have worked so hard and this is my medal. Last year was my biggest blessing when the Olympics was postponed, I was really happy…To be here getting a bronze medal, I am just so grateful.”

Teahna Daniels was the sole Team USA athlete to make the 100-meter final. She placed seventh in 11.02.

Notably absent from the race was Great Britain’s Dina Asher-Smith, who didn’t advance from the semi-final round. Afterward she told reporters that she had been suffering a serious hamstring injury and has decided not to compete in the 200 meters at the Games. The competition was also missing U.S. Olympic Trials champion Sha’Carri Richardson, who is serving a 30-day suspension after testing positive for marijuana. And the Athletics Integrity Unit announced on Friday that Nigerian Blessing Okagbare would not be allowed to race in the semifinal after testing positive for human growth hormone.

Thompson-Herah, however, will return to the track for the 200 meters, saying that she’s still just taking it one race at a time.

“I’ve been injured so much. I’m grateful I could get back on the track, and get back out on the track this year to retain the [100-meter] title,” she said. “Now I have one more to go.”

This story will be updated.