Elaine Thompson-Herah has broken Florence Griffith Joyner’s 33-year-old Olympic record in the women’s 100m to defend her Olympic 100m title in dazzling style in Tokyo.
The 29-year-old scorched to an Olympic record of 10.61 seconds to beat country rivals Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Shericka Jackson, pointing at the scoreboard even before she crossed the line.
Griffith Joyner set the old record of 10.62 at the 1988 Seoul Olympics.
No Olympic champion had broken 10.7 since ‘Flo Jo’ and Thompson-Herah wasn’t sure she would either as she approached the finish.
“But I knew that I won,” she said.
“The pointing, I don’t know what it means. To show that I was clear.”
This was the first Jamaican sweep of the medals since the women did it at the 2008 Beijing Games – a feat somewhat overshadowed that week by the record-setting performances by Usain Bolt.
But the Jamaican women actually have a longer history of sprint success than the men in the island country.
Fraser-Pryce finished on top in that 2008 race and completed her Olympic set in the 100, where she now has two golds (’08, ’12), a silver and a bronze (’16).
Big rivals Fraser-Pryce and Thompson-Herah are headed for a possible rematch in the 200, where Thompson-Herah is also the defending champion.
This had been shaping up as a fast race for days, if not months. In June, Fraser-Pryce ran the fourth-fastest time in history at 10.63 seconds.
And when the sprinters arrived in Japan, they discovered a fast track at Olympic Stadium. In the semifinals earlier Saturday, the Jamaicans all cracked 10.8 to get on the list of the 10 best times in Olympic history.
Then, it was Thompson-Herah’s turn to make history.
Flo Jo’s records are older than virtually every sprinter in the women’s game, save Fraser-Pryce, who was born about 18 months before the American set the marks.
Griffith Joyner’s world record, the 10.49, is still out there, and no other woman has ever broken 10.6.
Thompson-Herah pointed even before she got to the line, conjuring memories of Bolt, who celebrated with 10m to go when he ran 9.69 to break the men’s world record in 2008.
“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.”
She said she might even have annexed the late Flo Jo’s mark on Saturday if she hadn’t started celebrating so early in the race.
“It’s a work in progress. Anything is possible,” said Thompson-Herah, when asked if she could set a new mark.
“I knew I was clear, that I won, so I started to celebrate too early. There’s most definitely (a world record) if I didn’t celebrate.
“Two months ago, maybe a month and a half ago, I didn’t think I would be here (because of an Achilles injury). I held my composure.
“I have more years. I’m just 29. I’m not 30. I’m not 40. I’m still working.”