Olympics: Rise, the latest Jamaican queen

Jamaica's Elaine Thompson celebrating after winning the 200m ahead of Dutch favourite Dafne Schippers and American Tori Bowie. The previous female sprint double winner was the late, irrepressible Florence Griffth-Joyner in Seoul 28 years ago.
Jamaica's Elaine Thompson celebrating after winning the 200m ahead of Dutch favourite Dafne Schippers and American Tori Bowie. The previous female sprint double winner was the late, irrepressible Florence Griffth-Joyner in Seoul 28 years ago.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

'Warrior' Thompson shrugs off pain to complete double, joins fellow Caribbean sprinting greats

RIO DE JANEIRO • Elaine Thompson described herself as a "warrior" as she overcame a hamstring injury to seal the first women's Olympic sprint double in 28 years.

Fresh from bagging the 100m gold, she timed a season-best 21.78 seconds to trump Dutch favourite Dafne Schippers, who settled for the silver in 21.88 at the Olympic Stadium on Wednesday.

The Jamaican follows in the footsteps of compatriots Veronica Campbell-Brown, 200m winner at the 2004 and 2008 Olympics, and also Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who claimed 100m gold in Beijing and the London Games four years ago.

"I spent my childhood growing up watching Veronica and then Shelley-Ann," Thompson said.

However, the Jamaican said she had not harboured such golden hopes coming into the Rio Games.

"My expectation coming into these Olympics was that I just wanted to run as smooth as possible," she said with some understatement. "I had a hamstring injury at the national trials. But I didn't let that overcome me. I treated it the best I could, but it wasn't that bad.

"I had some rough days training but... I'm a warrior, I'm strong inside and I trained hard.

"It's amazing. It all paid off."

JUST LIKE THE BEST

I spent my childhood growing up watching Veronica and then Shelley-Ann... My expectation... was that I just wanted to run as smooth as possible.

ELAINE THOMPSON, on emulating Jamaican Olympic champions Veronica Campbell-Brown and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce

It certainly did, as Thompson went on to win a first Olympic sprint double since American world-record holder Florence Griffith-Joyner's at Seoul 1988.

"I've seen videos and photos of her," acknowledged the Stephen Francis-coached Jamaican, who just two seasons ago was running 23.23sec for the 200m.

Turning to the actual race, Thompson said that given Schippers' renowned fast final 50 metres, it had been essential to remain focused.

"I know Dafne is a strong finisher, but I'm a strong finisher as well," the 24-year-old said. "I just went out there, kept my composure and executed straight away."

Schippers was at first left devastated by the result, before slowly coming around to accepting her silver and admitting that she nearly didn't even make the start list.

"I came for the gold, I'm not happy with the silver," she said.

Schippers, who is also 24, won gold in last year's Beijing World Championships in 21.63sec, the fourth-fastest time ever run. In that race, Thompson led for all but the final metre only to see the Dutchwoman blast through to take gold.

"But two days before the start of the 100m, I had a problem with my leg and it was very hard for my mind," said Schippers.

"I'm very happy to be here and run 100 (fifth in 10.90) and 200 and get a silver medal. My times were okay but they were not strong enough. It's heavy to run six races.

"Let's go for the next four years and move on to the next Games. All eight girls came to win here. When you're in a final, you want to win.

"I have to think about the process after the 100m. I'm very happy to be here with the silver medal."

American Tori Bowie, who won a silver medal in the 100m final, grabbed bronze in 22.15, capping a meteoric rise for the former long jumper who switched to sprinting only in 2014.

"My goal today was to finish as best I could and I'm leaving with another medal," she said. "Who couldn't be thankful for that?"

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 19, 2016, with the headline 'Rise, the latest Jamaican queen'. Print Edition | Subscribe