Athletics: Jackson takes 200m gold to close in on Flo-Jo record; Lyles wins men's race

Shericka Jackson celebrates after winning the women's 200 metres final in Oregon on July 21, 2022. PHOTO: REUTERS

EUGENE, OREGON (REUTERS) - Jamaican Shericka Jackson became the fastest woman alive over 200 metres on Thursday (July 21) when she scorched to a dominant world title in 21.45 seconds, a time bettered only by American Florence Griffith-Joyner in 1988.

Fellow Jamaican Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who claimed her fifth world 100m gold on Sunday, took silver in 21.81, with Britain's defending champion Dina Asher-Smith third in 22.02.

It was an incredible run by Jackson, edging her ahead of double Olympic sprint champion Elaine Thompson-Herah in the all-time list and closing in on Griffith-Joyner's 21.34 from the Seoul Olympics.

It also gave her a measure of satisfaction after her painful experience in the Tokyo Olympics when she eased up too early in the 200m heats and failed to go through when highly fancied for a medal.

"I'm feeling great. I came out and put on a show. The fastest woman alive, the national and championship record, I can't complain," said Jackson.

The 28-year-old has a bagful of individual minor medals, including a silver in the 100m in Eugene last weekend, but now finally has a global gold.

"I know Shelly is probably one of the best curve runners in the world so I had to run the curve as hard as possible," she added. "I know I am strong and fast on coming home so I knew when I eventually caught up with her, I could take it."

Fraser-Pryce, who won the world 200 title in 2013, got her usual blistering start and the 35-year-old led coming off the bend before Jackson hit full stride and pulled clear to drive home with clear daylight between the yellow vests.

"I was really, really tired physically and mentally and still I wanted to come out and have a good run," said Fraser-Pryce.

"This has always been an event that challenges me. I got lane six, all the girls were behind me so I had to get off like nobody."

Aminatou Seyni was fourth for Niger, ahead of American duo Abby Steiner and Tamara Clark, with Thompson-Herah seventh.

Jackson said she was not thinking about times but everyone else in the sport is, as the current crop of Jamaican stars chip away at a world record that for many still sits uncomfortably Griffith-Joyner's mark has long been considered untouchable and exists under a cloud of suspicion over doping. The American, who also holds the 100m world record, died in 1998 at the age of 38.

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (left) and Shericka Jackson celebrate after the women's 200m final in Oregon on July 21, 2022. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

Advances in shoe and track technology are helping to bring it closer.

Her Seoul semi-final time of 21.56 had long stood as the second-fastest before Thompson-Herah, in the Tokyo Olympics, and Jackson in last month's Jamaican trials, nudged ahead of it.

Jackson is now just over a 10th of a second behind the 21.34 and with evergreen Fraser-Pryce as inspiration, she will have it firmly in her sights with another World Championships and an Olympic Games in the next two years.

In the men's 200m, Noah Lyles produced a dominating performance to defend his title in 19.31, becoming the third-fastest athlete of all time over the distance and leading a second American sprint podium sweep.

Tokyo bronze medallist Lyles led at the halfway point and exploded through the finish, with compatriots Kenny Bednarek and 18-year-old Erriyon Knighton battling out of the turn and down the straight for silver and bronze.

Noah Lyles produced a dominating performance to defend his title in 19.31. PHOTO: AFP

Lyles ripped open his shirt after the finish as the home crowd in Eugene, Oregon, roared with approval, and offered an embrace to rival Knighton.

"Today is my day - I finally got to do what I dreamed of,"he said on track after breaking four-time Olympic champion Michael Johnson's national record, which had stood since 1996. "I got my whole family here."

It was the second podium 1-2-3 for the American men in Eugene after Fred Kerley, Marvin Bracy and Trayvon Bromell swept the 100m.

Lyles hopped on the back of World Championships mascot Legend and rode across the track after the podium ceremony inside Hayward Field to the delight of the fans.

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