The debate as to who is the greatest female sprinter of all-time wasn’t settled at the Tokyo Olympics. It may continue for years, even decades. Yet the argument should be limited to two candidates, both hailing from Jamaica.
Is it 34-year-old Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, the Olympic gold medalist in the 100-meters at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, as well as the silver medalist in the event in Tokyo, or 29-year-old Elaine Thompson-Herah, who on Monday became the first women in history to win both the 100- and 200-meters in consecutive Olympic Games? Herah captured the 100 in Tokyo in a time of 10.61 seconds, breaking the late Florence Griffith-Joyner’s Olympic record of 10.62 set at the 1988 Seoul Olympics. Griffith-Joyner’s world record of 10.49 still stands.
It was a medal sweep for Jamaica in the event as Fraser-Pryce won the silver, clocking 10.74, while Shericka Jackson took bronze with a time of 10.76. Thompson-Herah was back atop the podium following the 200. She blazed a time of 21.53, the second fastest in history behind Flo-Jo’s 21.34. Christine Mboma of Namibia won silver in 21.81 and the USA’s Gabby Thomas bronze in 21.87. Fraser-Pryce crossed the line in fourth place.
“I’m happy. I’m overwhelmed. I’m lost for words. I never seen this day, even though the work was put in already,” said Thompson-Herah after her remarkable accomplishment. … To win a double at the Olympics, it’s amazing. I mean, God is good.”
Before departing Tokyo, Thompson-Herah and Fraser-Pryce will try to lead Jamaica to the 4×100 relay title. To date, Thompson-Herah has four individual Olympic gold medals and one silver in the 4×100, in addition to a gold in the 4×100 at the 2015 World Championships. Fraser-Pryce’s trophy case is much more full. She has garnered two golds (100 meters in 2008 and 2012), four silvers and a bronze in Olympic competition. Her World Championship resume is unmatched by a woman sprinter. She has a total of nine gold medals in the 100, 200 and 4×100, as well as two silver medals.
New Brunswick, New Jersey native Sydney McLaughlin, who turns 22 on Saturday, earned her first Olympic gold medal on Wednesday afternoon in Tokyo—the city is 13 hours ahead of eastern standard time—in sensational fashion, shattering her own world record in the women’s 400-meter hurdles. McLaughlin posted a time of 51.46, besting Queens, N.Y. and Cardozo High School product Dalilah Muhammad, who registered 51.58, the second fastest time ever, which secured her the silver medal. Muhammad, 31, won gold in the 400-meter hurdles at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
She previously set the world record (52.16) at the 2019 World Championships but it was lowered to 51.90 by McLaughlin at USA Olympic Trials in June. Another New Jersey track star, 19-year-old Athing Mu from Trenton, became the first American woman to win a gold medal in the 800-meters when she blistered a new U.S. record time of 1 minute, 55.21 seconds on Tuesday.