As the greatest women’s 100m race reached its denouement, Elaine Thompson-Herah burned past her greatest rival and then raised her left arm in victory salute. There were hints of Ben Johnson in Seoul, but then the clock flashed up the winning time, 10.61sec, and another name from the 1988 Olympics came to mind: Florence Griffith Joyner.
Incredibly, Thompson-Herah had, after 33 years, broken the American’s Olympic record. And when she talked about potentially downing Griffith Joyner’s world, such talk did not appear quite as fanciful as it would have done a few moments before.
“I could have gone faster if I wasn’t pointing and celebrating early,” she said. “But that shows there is more in store, so hopefully one day I can unleash that time.
“Behind this 10.6 was a lot of nerves and I said: ‘You can do this, you’ve been here before, just execute.’ I have more years. I’m just 29; I’m not 30, I’m not 40. I’m still working.”
Behind her was the great Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, the 2008 and 2012 champion, in 10.74 and Shericka Jackson, whose time of 10.76 was the fastest for third place in a women’s 100m.
It meant that once again Jamaican women occupied the top three spots on the podium, just as they did at Beijing in 2008.
“Of course you are disappointed,” said Fraser-Pryce. “The aim of an athlete lining up is always to win but that didn’t happen tonight.
It was the way Thompson-Herah powered to victory, defending her title from Rio, that was the most striking.
As usual, Fraser-Pryce detonated that controlled explosion from the blocks, and accelerated into her drive phase, to take a significant lead. But her great rival was always close and at 70 metres powered clear. It was a stunning moment in a breathtaking race.
The only pity was that there were not 68,000 fans in the Olympic Stadium, bellowing and cheering along during four hours of compelling action. But at least on this occasion, like so many others, Thompson-Herah created her own noise.