Thompson-Herah defends Olympic sprint title, Bromell struggles

Tokyo (AFP) –


Elaine Thompson-Herah ran the joint second fastest time in history as she retained her Olympic 100m crown on Saturday ahead of pre-race favourite Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce in a Jamaican podium sweep.

Thompson-Herah, who won the sprint double at the Rio Olympics in 2016, had come into the blue riband event very much in the shadow of Fraser-Pryce.

At 34, and having had time out to have a baby, Fraser-Pryce was seeking to become the first woman to win a single individual Olympic event three times having previously triumphed in the 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Games.

But Thompson-Herah was quick out of the blocks, hitting a top speed of 39.7km/h (24.7mph) down the straight in a 68,000-capacity Olympic Stadium empty of fans because of coronavirus restrictions in the Japanese capital.

Fraser-Pryce reeled her teammate in at the 50-metre mark, but Thompson-Herah dug deep to pull away for a memorable victory in 10.61 seconds, beating by one-hundredth of a second the previous Olympic best set by American Florence Griffith-Joyner at the 1988 Seoul Games.

Only Griffith-Joyner has run faster than the Jamaican, having set the world record of 10.49 at the 1988 US Olympic trials -- a day before also timing 10.61.

Fraser-Pryce raced home in 10.74 for silver, while Shericka Jackson clocked a personal best of 10.76, with the first six sprinters all dipping below the 11-sec mark.

"I knew I had it in me but obviously I've had my ups and downs with injuries," said Thompson-Herah. "I've been keeping faith all this time. It is amazing.

"I'm grateful I could get back on the track, and get back out on the track this year to retain the title. Now I have one more to go," she added in reference to the 200m, with heats on Monday.

- Bromell struggles -

The first round of the men's 100m threw up some surprises as American Trayvon Bromell, who owns the fastest time this year of 9.77sec, only scraped through as a fastest loser after finishing fourth in his heat.

US teammates Ronnie Baker and Fred Kerley also went through, while an impressive-looking Andre De Grasse of Canada topped times with 9.91sec.

"It is a season's best and I am really looking forward to tomorrow night. I am ready to go," said the Canadian who won bronze in the event in Rio in 2016.

He has big spikes to fill, as the Tokyo Olympics are the first since Athens in 2004 to take place without Jamaica's Usain Bolt, winner of eight golds.

- Asher-Smith out -

There was drama following the women's 100m semi-finals as world 200 metres champion Dina Asher-Smith said she was pulling out of the event because of a hamstring injury.

She could only manage third place in her 100m semi-final in 11.05, which was not enough to progress to the final.

Asher-Smith's news was mitigated by a trio of Britons qualifying from the semi-finals for the women's eight-strong 800m final on Tuesday.

Jemma Reekie, Keely Hodgkinson and Alexandra Bell will be joined by Jamaica's Natoya Goule, Americans Athing Mu and world silver medallist Raevyn Rogers, Ethiopian Habitam Alemu and China's Wang Chunyu.

But there were places neither for world champion Halimah Nakaayi of Uganda nor American world bronze medallist Ajee Wilson.

Kajetan Duszynski produced a thrilling sprint from 200 metres out to surge from third place to help Poland to the gold medal in the inaugural Olympic mixed 4x400m relay.

The quartet of Karol Zalewski, Natalia Kaczmarek, Justyna Swiety-Ersetic and Duszynski clocked 3min 09.87sec.

The Dominican Republic claimed a surprise silver in 3:10.21, with the US foursome, the pre-race favourites and reigning world champions, taking bronze (3:10.22) without Allyson Felix in their ranks.

"I can't believe it, it's is a dream since childhood. It has come true," said Duszynski. "It's such a great feeling."

The third gold medal of the night went to world champion Daniel Stahl, who led training partner Simon Pettersson in a Swedish one-two in the men's discus.

A dominant Stahl threw a best of 68.90 metres, with Pettersson taking silver with 67.39m and Austrian Lukas Weisshaidinger claiming bronze (67.07m).