Sat | Aug 19, 2017

Thompson faces tough Eugene test

Published:Friday | May 27, 2016 | 5:12 AMAndre Lowe
Netherlands' Dafne Schippers (left) and Jamaica's Elaine Thompson.


 
EUGENE, Oregon
The developing rivalry between Jamaican sprinter Elaine Thompson and Dutch speedster Dafne Schippers is threatening to become one of the most exciting in international track and field and the two will go at it again here tomorrow, at the Prefontaine Classic.
 
The pair have already had some exciting battles in the 200 metres and 60 metres with Schippers edging the Jamaican for the gold medal in the 200m at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing, China last year, before taking silver ahead of Thompson, who won bronze in the 60m at the IAAF World Indoor Championships in an hour or so North of the venue for tomorrow’s clash, the University of Oregon’s iconic Hayward Field.
 
In their six meeting over the 200m and 60m indoors, Thompson has only finished ahead of the big Netherlands star on one occasion, in the 60m semi-final at the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Portland earlier this year.
 
In fact, Thompson, who last season catapulted to the upper echelon of world class sprinting, has found herself on the wrong side of close finishes more often than she would like.
 
It was at tomorrow’s venue where she also lost an extremely close 100m race to American English Gardner, who like her, ran 10.84 seconds in what was the Jamaican’s only loss in the event for the entire season.
 
Thompson, who will be making her first appearance in the half-lap event this season after solid work on her start, which included assignments in the 60m and 100m, comes up against an athlete, who has certainly not slowed down since the heights of 2012.
 
Schippers is already responsible for the fastest time in the event this year — 22.02, which also to be her second best time in the 200m and her early season 10.83 run in the 100m, which is just a shade off her 10.81 seconds personal best in that event.
 
That’s all quite frightening from everyone else, but she won’t be Thompson’s only worry in Eugene.
 
Tori Bowie has been the highest ranked American in the 100m over the past two years and with 10.81 already on the books, is also the fastest woman in that event so far this season. That time came in an impressive win over Schippers at the Doha Diamond League and will be fresh in the minds of both athletes as they line up in the longer sprint tomorrow.
 
Bowie also has fond memories of this meet after taking a surprise win in the 200m at the 2014 Prefontaine Classic beating the likes of Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who had won the world title the previous year, Olympic champion Allyson Felix, Blessing Okagbare and Murielle Ahoure.
 
She certainly seems to like a challenge and with her unbeaten start to the season, it would come as less of a surprise this time around, if she does in fact go on to get the win ahead of more favoured opposition.