Elaine Thompson ended any lingering doubts about who is the fastest women on the planet by completing a famous 100m and 200m sprint double – the first since Florence Griffith Joyner at the Seoul Olympics in 1988. The Jamaican held off the challenge from pre-race favourite Dafne Schippers, who loomed but never delivered, to take gold in 21.78 sec, the fastest time in the world this year.
Schippers, who had a problem with her leg going into the competition, was second in 21.88 while the American Tori Bowie was third in 22.15. Britain’s Dina Asher-Smith ran well but tied up towards the end and was fifth in 22.31.
The race was a much-anticipated rematch of last year’s world championships in Beijing. Back then Thompson lead for all but the final metre only to feel and then see the Dutchwoman blast through to take gold. Twelve months ago the simultaneous dip for the line had the crowd gasping. But it was the times of the medallists that sent jaws crashing to the floor: Schippers 21.63, Thompson 21.66, Veronica Campbell-Brown 21.97. For only the second time in history, after the tainted 1988 Seoul Olympics final, three women had run under 22 seconds in the same 200m race.
This race wasn’t as quick – or exciting – but Thompson was delighted to have won the rematch. “My school motto was ‘let the light shine’ and I let my light shine tonight” she said. “It’s a big surprise to me because I had a hamstring injury earlier this year. You must overcome these things and tonight I am standing here with a gold. To beat Dafne is hard but I am a warrior.”
Schippers has been suffering with injury, but she said that tiredness had also played a factor. “I came for gold,” she said. “I was in good form. My times were OK but they were not strong enough. It’s heavy to run six races. I was getting closer and closer. I felt I was nearly passing her, but then I broke down as well. I’m not happy with the silver.”
Asher-Smith, meanwhile, said she was happy to come fifth given she had a poor start and a tight behind from lane two. Last year in Beijing she “freaked out” when Thompson and Schippers sped into the dust. This time she was calmer – but the result was the same.
“I didn’t freak out this year – I was saying ‘please do not freak out when you see them go like that, because this is what they’re going to do’. To have pulled a fifth back after a poor start and to have been mixing it until 30 to go, 40 to go, I was really really happy. Although I got exactly the same place, I will try again next year and the year after that.”