Thompson-Herah eyes Olympic 'double-double' in 200m
TOKYO, Aug 1, 2021 (BSS/AFP) - Elaine Thompson-Herah sets out to follow up her Olympic 100 metres gold medal in the 200m on Monday with the athletics world wondering how much faster she can run.
The 29-year-old Jamaican sprint queen stormed to victory in the 100m on Saturday, eclipsing Florence Griffith Joyner's 33-year-old Olympic record by 0.01sec with a time of 10.61sec.
The win left Thompson-Herah firmly on course to repeat her 2016 Rio Olympics 100m-200m sprint double, for what would be an unprecedented women's "double-double".
The victory also left hanging the question of how much Thompson-Herah has left in the tank -- and whether more records might be within reach.
Thompson-Herah would almost certainly have clocked a faster time on Saturday had she not started celebrating well before the finish line, potentially edging her closer to Griffith Joyner's 100m world record of 12.49sec, long regarded as untouchable.
Now Thompson-Herah is training her sights on Monday's opening heats in the 200m, where the Olympic and world record remains Griffith Joyner's 21.34sec, set at the drug-tainted 1988 Seoul Games.
To threaten that, Thompson-Herah would need to significantly improve her 200m personal best of 21.66sec, set in Beijing in 2015.
Yet after her 100m win on Saturday, Thompson-Herah says as as far as her future is concerned, "anything is possible".
Asked if she believed Griffith Joyner's 100m world record was attainable, she replied: "Most definitely."
"I think I could have gone faster if I wasn't pointing and celebrating early," she told AFP.
"I wanted to show there was more in store. Hopefully one day I can unleash that time."
Thompson-Herah admitted that she had surprised even herself with her performances in Tokyo so far.
- Lurking threats -
Earlier this year she was still struggling for form and fitness, troubled by a sore Achilles.
She finished third in both the 100m and 200m at the Jamaican Olympic trials in June, where Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce -- who she beat for gold on Saturday -- won both races.
"I never expected to run this fast," Thompson-Herah said.
"Even though I felt great during the rounds, sometimes in the finals you get nerves. Behind this 10.6 was a lot of nerves.
"But I said 'You can do this, you've been here before, just execute.'"
The 200m is likely to pose a stiffer challenge for Thompson-Herah, however.
Although one obstacle has been removed, with the injury to Britain's Dina Asher-Smith that forced the reigning 200m world champion to withdraw from Monday's opening rounds, there are pitfalls lurking throughout the field.
She will again have to lock horns with compatriot and rival Fraser-Pryce, who set the world's second fastest time this year with 21.79sec at the Jamaican trials.
Fraser-Pryce and Thompson-Herah could both be upstaged by rising American star Gabby Thomas, who became the second fastest woman in history over 200m when she clocked a world-leading 21.61sec at the US trials in Eugene in June.
Thomas's startling performances in Oregon raised the prospect of Griffith Joyner's 200m world record potentially being in play.
The Harvard graduate is cautious about whether she thinks a world record is achievable.
"I don't want to say 'no'," Thomas said. "But I don't want to put a limit on myself. So I'm not going to say it's unattainable."
Fraser-Pryce meanwhile reflected after Saturday's 100m final that women's sprinting was enjoying a renaissance. After a decade where Usain Bolt enjoyed centre stage at major championships, women's sprinting is now enjoying its moment in the spotlight.
"You just have to be prepared for anything," Fraser-Pryce said.
"I'm really excited that female sprinting is going to another level, and that's truly remarkable. It speaks to the depth that we have as females -- we always have to show up and be ready."