Elaine Thompson-Herah did what up until now was the impossible. The Jamaican sprinter established a new Olympic record in Tokyo on Saturday, July 31. She took home the gold medal in the women’s 100 meters with a time of 10.61, shaving one hundredth of a second off Florence Griffith Joyner’s previous record of 10.61 from the Seoul Olympics in 1988.
The 29-year-old dominated the field Saturday to repeat as women’s 100 meters champion — Thompson-Herah also won the event in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro — and collect the third Olympic gold medal of her career, beating her top competitor and fellow Jamaican Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce by .13 seconds. Shericka Jackson came in third with a time of 10.76 to complete a medal sweep for Jamaica.
Thomspon-Herah’s feat leaves her as a favorite to repeat her 2016 sweep of the 100 and 200 meters in Tokyo. Yet, even with her impressive performance that saw her so far ahead in the final strides that she had time to celebrate even before crossing the finish line, she was still unsure of just how fast she had run. Talking to reporters afterward, Thompson-Herah said she only “knew that I won.”
“I’ve been injured so much. I’m grateful I could get back on the track and get back out on the track this year to retain the title,” she said. “I knew I had it in me but obviously I’ve had my ups and downs with injuries. I’ve been keeping faith all this time. It is amazing.”
Fans took to their social media platforms to share their reactions to the accomplishment. One Twitter user wrote, “I warned ya’ll before the Olympics lol when it comes to female sprint It’s Jamaica and the rest of the world.”
Another person commented, “Yeah no, still can’t wrap my head around Elaine Thompson-Herah’s run She is the greatest female sprinter of our generation & 2nd greatest of all time 🇯🇲💯.”
“I don’t think some of you realize that Elaine Thompson-Herah broke a 33-year-old Olympic record!!!!” expressed a third. “MY GOODNESS! SHE IS GREATNESS PERSONIFIED! 🙌🏾🙏🏾🇯🇲”
As The Associated Press pointed out, Flo-Jo’s records are older than virtually every sprinter in the women’s game. Fraser-Pryce was born about 18 months before the iconic track star set the marks. Still, Griffith Joyner’s world record has yet to be broken. Furthermore, no other woman has ever broken 10.6, let alone gotten close to Griffith Joyner’s time of 10.49.
But Thompson-Herah wasn’t the only one making history during Saturday’s race. Six women in the final ran under 11 seconds, making the race one of the fastest in history.