The CHill Zone of T&F: Conway's View From the Finish Line

Women’s 100m Outlook, 2024

Nov 5th, 2023
3:21 pm PST

I’ve given my opinion on the men’s 100m, so it’s time to do the same for the women. I’ll start by saying that there are fewer women currently competing in the top thirty all time performance list than the men. BUT five of the top ten fastest women ever are currently competing! The women are not as deep overall, but have better depth on the top end.

The women’s WR of 10.49 has been on the books since 1988! And for all these decades it’s appeared to be unapproachable – until recently, as there has been an explosion of performance post Covid. Elaine Thompson Herah (10.54), Shelly Ann Fraser Pryce (10.60), Sha’Carri Richardson (10.65), Shericka Jackson (10.65), and Marie Josee TaLou (10.71) have all become members of the top ten in the past few years. And for the first time in decades people are legitimately talking about women’s sprint records being broken. Which of course has put eyes on the events.

That said, one of the most highly anticipated races in Paris will be the final of the women’s 100m. With the hope that it will bring something  not seen in over thirty years. Ironically we’ve yet to get all five women mentioned above in one race with all being healthy! If we can achieve that in Paris, our wish could come true. So, without a lot of chit chat, let’s take a look at the top women.

Elaine Thompson Herah, Jamaica, 10.54pb – Elaine is the only woman competing to win the sprint double in two Olympics. Doing so in 2016 and 2021. Ironically however, she’s never won a world title. As she always seems to be hurt in “off” seasons. But when she’s on, she’s as good as it gets, because her transition and finish are possibly the best ever. She changed coaches during this past season and began to “look like herself” near seasons end. If she’s healthy, she will be a force to recon with.

Shelly Ann Fraser Pryce, Jamaica, 10.60pb – The queen of the World Championships. When Elaine has been off, Shelly Ann has been on. Winning five World titles. Shelly is possibly the best starter in the world. Even rivaling Christian Coleman, Trayvon Bromell and Lamont Jacobs. In  2022, she reeled off six races under 10.70. However, this season found her starting her season very late due to injury. And at 36 years of age she’s in a race with Father Time as well as her competition. If she  out runs Father Time and gets to Paris, everyone else beware.

Sha’Carri Richardson, United States, 10.65pb – The word most used during Sha’Carri’s career has been, potential. Starting when she ran a sizzling collegiate record (also U20 record) of 10.75 in 2019. However, she didn’t perform well in Europe during that summer. Then coming out of Covid, she won the US Trials in 2021. Only to get DQ’d for having weed in her system. She was suspended and raced sparingly, and poorly, the rest of the year. As people discussed her potential. She struggled in 2022. Then hit her stride, literally and figuratively this year. Winning gold in Budapest. When she’s got it together, she’s got the best top end speed out there.

Shericka Jackson, Jamaica, 10.65pb – Shericka is a former quartermiler that decided to move to the shorter sprints in 2021. Since then, she’s won two World titles over 200m (’22/’23), 100m bronze in the Olympics (’21), and two Worlds 100m silvers (’22/’23). She’s a solid sprinter. With a strong finish. Her key to victory lies in how well she can cover the first 30-40m.

Maree Josee TaLou, Ivory Coast, 10.72pb – At 34 years old, TaLou is another mature sprinter in the mold of Shelly Ann Fraser. Similarly, she’s also a fast starter with a decent acceleration and transition. She’s always in contention, yet has constantly missed the podium. As in 4th place in three major Championships (’16/’21/’23). If she’s looking to upgrade in Paris, she’s going to have to be prepared to run a PB.

Breaking into this top group is going to be difficult for everyone else. Only seven women in history have run under 10.70. Unfortunately for these women, four of them are currently competing, and at least one of them is not going to medal. Now, as I said regarding the men, there is always the potential for someone new to rise up. Of current competitors I would put that challenge to the following women.

Julien Alfred, St Lucia, 10.81pb – Alfred is the 2023 NCAA champion in both the 100m/200m. She’s a strong sprinter with no exceptional part to her race, but few flaws. She’s gotten better each season in college, so has the potential to do so this coming season.

Melissa Jefferson, United States, 10.82pb – Melissa burst onto the scene in 2022 winning the US Trials in a windy 10.68. She made the World final but only placed 8th. Having a bit of a difficult summer. She made this year’s Worlds team as a relay pool member. She’s changed coaches this off season in an effort to make the upcoming team for Paris.

Tamari Davis, United States, 10.83pb – Tamari is the second fastest ever U20 sprinter with her PB, and just missed making the 2022 team – finishing forth. She did make this year’s squad; made the final in Budapest; and led off the gold medal winning 4×1. She’s one of our more consistent sprinters and has a strong chance of making the team for Paris.

As with the men, there’s always the possibility of someone coming “out of nowhere” to make the final – and even medal. The most likely “suspects” would have to come from one of the top Europeans – Gina Luckenkemper (10.90, Germany), Dina Asher Smith (10.85, Britain), Ewa Swoboda (10.94, Poland), or Daryll Neita (10.96, Britain). Of course that does not eliminate the possibility of someone currently unknown from doing the same. Truthfully however, breaking into those vying for the podium is going to be near impossible if I’m being honest.

This is the landscape of the women’s 100m as we enter the Olympic season. The fight for this gold medal will be one of the most spectacular events in Paris. As we have one of the greatest groups of athletes that any event has seen at one time. Perhaps as good as the men’s event in the early twenty teens. The women’s 100m will be must see TV in Paris!

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