TRIUMPH! - Super Elaine gets Jamaica flying as sprint queen Shelly gets bronze
One reign ended last night inside Rio’s Olympic Stadium as another was crowned in golden glory.
Elaine Thompson last night became the second Jamaican to win Olympic gold in the women’s 100m after a commanding win inside the Olympic Stadium, where she clocked 10.72 – the second fastest time in an Olympic women’s 100m final.
Thompson got a strong start and held off a raging pack before pushing to the front and keeping daylight between herself and American Tori Bowie, 10.83 and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, the 2008 and 2012 Olympic champion, who fought bravely despite a banged up toe to clock 10.87 for the bronze medal.
"Honestly I smile because I want to get the nerves away and I also smile because I am confident in myself because I know I train hard and I know I can do it," Thompson later told journalists.
"I’m excited and very happy for her (Shelly-Ann). It has been a rough season for her. She is also my training partner and a motivation for me so for us to come out here and dominate tonight, feels amazing," added Thompson
It was literally a painful end to a determined campaign by Fraser-Pryce, who was looking to become the first woman to win three consecutive individual Olympic gold medals in track and field and also equal the record for individual gold medals for a woman in Olympic athletics. Nonetheless, I’m pretty sure she is the first woman to win bronze on virtually nine toes.
Despite failing to achieve the three-peat Fraser-Pryce was overjoyed for her team mate.
"Thank you Lord for giving SFP the opportunity to defend my title. Despite not successfully doing so I cannot think of a more worthy athlete to take gold tonight," Fraser-Pryce posted on FaceBook minutes after the race.
"SFP knows the feeling of taking gold at your first Olympics and is tremendously happy that ... Elaine will now have this experience after years of training alongside each other," added Fraser-Pryce.
So we are off and running, a gold and a bronze to get things going at the Rio 2016 Games pushing the country’s overall Olympic tally to 69 medals.
With her win, Thompson also became the 17th Olympic women’s 100m champion.
Christania Williams, the youngest among the finalist seemed to hurt herself and struggled to eight place in 11.80.
Tonight, it will be Usain Bolt’s turn to make a push for history.
The big Jamaican arrived inside the Olympic Stadium to deafening screams and although he didn’t make too much noise with his performance, Usain Bolt’s first gear 10.07 run in his men’s 100m heat isn’t exactly what his rivals were hoping to see.
Yohan Blake was also easy and comfortable as he too led those in his heat to the line, which he crossed in 10.11 seconds. Nickel Ashmeade, 10.12, assured that all three Jamaicans got safe passage to tonight’s semi-final, which is set for 9:00pm (7:00pm) even though he finished behind China’s Zhenye Xie, 10.08.
Damar Forbes, the second Jamaican to qualify for the long jump final, certainly didn’t have things his way as his best of 7.82m was only good enough for 12th. USA’s Jeff Henderson, 8.38m took the gold ahead of South Africa’s Luvo Manyonga, 8.37m and Great Britain’s Greg Rutherford 8.29m.
No Jamaican has ever won a medal in the women’s triple jump at the Olympic Games but Kimberly Williams, who finished sixth at the London 2012 Games, is looking to do something about that and will get her chance in tonight’s final, which gets started at 8:55pm (6:55pm Jamaica time).
Williams leapt 14.22m to finish sixth overall in qualifying action yesterday.
Another Jamaican Shanieka Thomas was close throughout but eventually finished 14th overall with a best mark of 14.02m
Aisha Praught is through to the 3000m steeplechase but not after some drama.
The US-born Jamaican athlete was tripped up by a fellow competitor with about 600m left in the contest and eventually finished eight in her heat with a time of 9:35.79 but was later advanced to the final after an appeal was filed to the IAAF’s Jury of Appeals.
She will become the first Jamaican athlete to compete in the Olympics 3000m steeplechase final.
All Jamaicans are through to the women’s 400m finals with Stephenie-Ann McPherson (51.36), Christine Day (51.54) and Shericka Jackson (51.73), who all made it to last year’s World Championships final where Jackson won bronze, all finished in front in their heats and will line-up in today’s semi-finals at 8:35pm (6:35pm).
McPherson will line up beside American Phyllis George in her semi-final with Jackson facing Natasha Hastings, another American in hers.
Christine Day will have her work cut out for her with gold medal rivals Allyson Felix (USA) and Shaunae Miller (Bahamas) featured in her heat.
Javon Francis found himself in a semi-final that could almost be a final here at the Olympics and despite a brave 44.92 run could only manage a fifth placed finish as defending champion Kirani James (Grenada), took the event in a season’s best 44.02. American LaShawn Merritt, 44.21 was second with Botswana’s Karabo Sibanda, 44.47 taking third place.
Rusheen McDonald also failed to make it through to the final after his sixth placed finish in his semi-final in a time of 46.12 with Trinidad and Tobago’s possible medal spoiler Machel Cedenio, 44.39 and world champion Wayde van Niekerk, 44.45 cruising to the line.
So that makes it 12 years since a Jamaican man qualified to an Olympic 400m final, extending the misery in an event that opened the country’s Olympic history with Arthur Wint’s gold medal in 1948.