Sun | Feb 18, 2018

Thompson: Coach Francis was right - Sprinter hails coach's 2015 decision, elated with Diamond win

Published:Saturday | September 10, 2016 | 12:00 AMAndre Lowe
Jamaica's Elaine Thompson (centre) going clear of her rivals to win the women's 100 metres in 10.72 seconds at the Diamond League Memorial Van Damme athletics meet in Brussels, Belgium yesterday. Dafne Schippers (left) of the Netherlands was second in 10.97 while Carina Horn (right) of South Africa was fifth in 11.14.

BRUSSELS, Belgium:

In 2015, Elaine Thompson ran a couple 10.8s and three 10.9s in the 100 metres in what many felt was as good as any sign that she should run the 100m and 200m double at the World Championships in Beijing that summer.

Her coach, Stephen Francis, didn't seem to think so.

Francis wasn't convinced, and instead had her focus on the 200m, with the sprinter winning a silver medal in one of the fastest times ever in the event - 21.66.

This year, however, she was unleashed. Bubble wrap was removed, chains were cleared and like a well-greased locomotive, Thompson has simply been unstoppable, having her way with her competitors raising her stock with each success.


Unbeaten in 100m


The Jamaican claimed her 12th win in the event this year, closing her account without defeat in the 100m. In fact, she's only been beaten to the line twice in the past two seasons.

She has turned into a beast in the event and is showing a consistency that is both impressive considering she is still at the top end of her learning curve.

Yesterday's 10.72-second win at the Brussels Memorial van Damme Diamond League meet, which by the way, equalled Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce's meet record, was her fourth legal time under 10.80 seconds this year; the most by any athlete.

Still surprised by an amazing year that saw her also win double-sprint gold at the Olympic Games, Thompson paid tribute to Francis' decision as she reflected on the just ended season.

"I know Coach (Francis) knows what he's doing, and if he thought I wasn't capable of doing it last year, he's going to work on it for the next year. That's what he did, and I think he proved that (he was right) this year with me. I sat out the 100m last year, and I have to give God thanks with how it all worked out. I ran a personal best so many times, and for me to be here, in this position so fast, is an amazing thing," Thompson told The Gleaner yesterday after her event.

"Honestly, I have to keep smiling and looking at myself right now, I didn't know I would be standing here ... and I have to thank Stephen Francis, who transformed me into this person that I am right now," Thompson continued.

"I am a bit surprised with everything that has happened this year," she admitted. "Last year, I was just doing the 200m, and this year, I am a double Olympic champion and Diamond Race winner. There are so many words I could use to describe everything, but maybe the one word that best summarises everything is 'wonderful'. It's really just been a wonderful year."

Like she has done for much of the year, Thompson, yesterday, left the blocks in a hurry and had the field beaten from her first few strides, pulling away as the finish line grew closer.

Her rival Dafne Schipper (Netherland), 10.97 was second with another young Jamaican, Christania Williams, the Olympic finalist, taking third in 11.09 in +0.6 wind.

Simone Facey was sixth in 11.23 with Natasha Morrison running eight in 11.64.

Thompson's win gave her a first hold on the Diamond Trophy and also ensured that after Fraser-Pryce's wins in 2012, 2013 and 2015 and Veronica Campbell-Brown's triumph in 2014, a Jamaican took home the women's 100m Diamond Race win for the fifth straight year.

"It's my second time in Brussels, of course last year I came second in the 200m and to come here and win the Diamond is special to me. It means a lot, I am really happy and proud about this," Thompson continued.

She now has the target on her back but judging on what she has already shown, it looks like it's going to take some effort to get her off her perch in the seasons to come.