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

First Stop Women’s 100

Jul 31st, 2021
11:59 am PDT

And we’re off and running, literally. As the first few rounds of events have taken place and we’ve had our first couple of finals. The first actual final was themes 10,000 meters. Won by Ethiopian Selemon Barega. An interesting race given the heat and humidity as it turned into a wait and kick affair. That which hurts the distance runners however, tends to be good for sprinters and hurdlers. And so far, the conditions and the track have been to the liking of both sprinters and hurdlers.

That was clearly evident as the top women’s 400 hurdlers – Sydney McLaughlin, Femke Bol and Delilah Muhammad – seemed to “stroll” the final stretch of their races. While the competition struggled in their wake. The same could be said the men hurdlers. Karsten Warholm and Rai Benjamin finishing well ahead of their competition while “taking their time” in the stretch as well.

We’ve also had the first two rounds of the women’s 800 meters. Simply put, Athing Mu looks very good for a win here. Stay tuned.

The real test of the track however, has been the 100 meters. As the women have laid a blistering trail that is going to be difficult for everyone else to keep up with. Jamaican Elaine Thompson Herah started things off by blitzing an easy looking 10.82 in her opening heat. Followed by Marie Josee TaLou setting an African Record 10.78. Swiss sprinter Ajla del Ponte set an NR of 10.91, and Shelly Ann Fraser Pryce finished things up with a nice 10.84 of her own.

Things got even hotter in the semis as four women sped to the final with 10.7s. It looked Oprah Winfrey showed up and started passing them out. “You get a 10.7 and you get a 10.7”. First Elaine Thompson in the first heat with a 10.76. Then a virtual tie in the next semi as both TaLou and Shericka Jackson ran 10.79. Finally, not to be outdone, Shelly Ann sped 10.73. And a potentially explosive final was set.

Primary casualties along the way were Blessing Okagbare who tested positive for a banned substance and was sent home. Brit Dina Asher Smith was nursing an injury and failed to make the final. And Americans Jenna Prandini and Javianne Oliver failed to get out of the semis.

In spite of the missing, the final was hotly anticipated. It didn’t disappoint. Fraser Pryce was out quickly at the gun as usual, but she didn’t have that huge separation. Instead Jackson, TaLou and Thompson were in hot pursuit. With Thompson drawing even by 50 meters. In an instant her lift began to draw her away, and she went running through the line with her left arm raised high pointing at the clock! The flash time on the clock reading a blistering 10.60.

The official time of 10.61 appeared shortly, and Elaine Thompson had retained her title from 2016 in a new Olympic Record. The parade behind her was deep. Shelly Ann second in 10.74, Jackson third in 10.76 – a Jamaican sweep. TaLou 10.91, del Ponte 10.97, and Mujinga Kambundji 10.99 giving the race six under 11.00! And it took 10.7 to get on the podium.

Next up, the men’s 100. The first round was quiet compared to the women. I don’t we will really see “separation” until the semis. Semis and final within the next 24 hours. That and Juvaughn Harrison’s first final – the high jump. Add the semis of the women’s 400 hurdles and this meet is only getting better!

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