Rosie DiManno: The women’s 100 metres in Tokyo ended with Elaine Thompson-Herah’s celebration. It might have cost her a world record

TOKYO—Her jaw dropped in astonishment, her left hand pointed toward the clock in disbelief, she scorched through the finish line already in full-medal-jacket exhilaration mode, untouchable. Then she collapsed to the ground, rolling and squirming in delight, tattooed limbs flexing like a ladybug on its back, screeching: “Whoa! Whoa! Whoa!”Had Elaine Thompson-Herah not begun her celebration just a tad precipitately, she might very well have broken the women’s 100-metre world record that has been held by the late, great Florence Griffith Joyner since 1988.As it is, Thompson-Herah is the fastest woman alive.The defending and again Olympic champion set a Games record of 10:61, which means Griffith Joyner’s name will no longer appear at the top of every start list for the marquee event as the Olympic gold standard. That iconic glitter now belongs to the 29-year-old from a little Jamaican farming community called Banana Ground.The final was all Jamaica, a sweep of the podium for the ladies from the sun-splashed Caribbean nation that cranks out sprinters who run like the wind, although the goddesses had long been overshadowed by a fellow named Usain Bolt. Jamaican women have won every single sprint track title at the Games since Beijing, racking up 10 of 12 medals in the 100 and 200.“The pointing, I don’t know what it means,” a babbling Thompson-Herah told reporters afterward, talking almost as fast as she’d just run at Olympic Stadium. “To show that I was clear?”She knew the gesticulating might have cost her an added dimension of glory.” l think I could have gone faster if I wasn’t pointing and celebrating. I wanted to show that there is more in store, so hopefully one day I can unleash that.”That day could be Tuesday, when Thompson-Herah will be defending the 200-metre crown she also claimed in Rio five years ago. It will be Showdown Part II with compatriot Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who finished second in the 100, at 10.74, thwarted in her quest to become the first woman to win three Olympic 100-metre golds after victories in Beijing in London. Shericka Jackson claimed bronze, with a personal best 10:76.It was Fraser-Pryce though who, until late Saturday night, had been the fastest woman on the planet, with a time of 10.63 set in June. Fraser-Pryce had been touted to wear a crown of laurels in Tokyo, after the disappointment of bronze in Rio, where she was hobbled by a painful toe injury.The 34-year-old Fraser-Pryce, who gave birth to her first child four years ago, is idolized in Jamaica, not just for myriad athletic accomplishments but for her philanthropy and social goodness, with a foundation that distributes scholarships to athlete-students. The girl who ran to school barefoot as a child made sure, when the pandemic hit, that her eponymic-named resource centre was stocked with computers so local children could continue their education.She was clearly stunned when Thompson-Herah beat her across the finish line, walking in circles with an incredulous look on her face.“It is crazy but my emotions are still very raw right now,” Fraser-Pryce admitted as she slogged through the mixed zone, pulled this way and that by TV crews clamouring for interviews with the Jamaican trio.“I am very sure I am going to go home and probably have some tears. As I said, I have been through this many, many times. I am just really excited about what I was able to do tonight.”It was a thrilling race, an absolutely magnificent performance. Insane really. Six of the eight women ran under 11 seconds.“I’ve been injured so much, I’ve had my ups and downs,” said Thompson-Herah, who has been plagued with a persistent Achilles problem that dates back to 2018. “Last month, I didn’t think I would stand here to retain my title. I’m grateful I could get back on the track this year to train. Behind that smile and that Olympic record, I’m super-nervous.“But I’ve been keeping faith all this time. I’m out here, talking to myself, ‘You’ve done this before, you were here before, you can do this, just execute.’ I knew I had it in me but I didn’t expect to run this fast even though I felt great during the (earlier) rounds.”That this was indeed the showpiece event was made clear when the stadium was darkened just before the competitors were introduced, and laser lights illuminated the straightaway that had been turned into an elongated screen showing each woman’s name and national flag as their names were announced.They had settled in to start, in side-by-side lanes, these two remarkable Jamaican women, Thompson-Herah and Fraser-Pryce, both with vividly dyed long ponytails, the latter lemon-yellow segueing to tangerine, the former a lesser psychedelic mellow yellow, held back with a sparkly headband. They’d both been stellar in their heats and the semifinals, commanding enough that they had been able to throttle down and breeze to the finish in those races, conserving energy for the final, only about two-and-a-half hours after the semis were completed.Frase

Rosie DiManno: The women’s 100 metres in Tokyo ended with Elaine Thompson-Herah’s celebration. It might have cost her a world record

TOKYO—Her jaw dropped in astonishment, her left hand pointed toward the clock in disbelief, she scorched through the finish line already in full-medal-jacket exhilaration mode, untouchable. Then she collapsed to the ground, rolling and squirming in delight, tattooed limbs flexing like a ladybug on its back, screeching: “Whoa! Whoa! Whoa!”

Had Elaine Thompson-Herah not begun her celebration just a tad precipitately, she might very well have broken the women’s 100-metre world record that has been held by the late, great Florence Griffith Joyner since 1988.

As it is, Thompson-Herah is the fastest woman alive.

The defending and again Olympic champion set a Games record of 10:61, which means Griffith Joyner’s name will no longer appear at the top of every start list for the marquee event as the Olympic gold standard. That iconic glitter now belongs to the 29-year-old from a little Jamaican farming community called Banana Ground.

The final was all Jamaica, a sweep of the podium for the ladies from the sun-splashed Caribbean nation that cranks out sprinters who run like the wind, although the goddesses had long been overshadowed by a fellow named Usain Bolt. Jamaican women have won every single sprint track title at the Games since Beijing, racking up 10 of 12 medals in the 100 and 200.

“The pointing, I don’t know what it means,” a babbling Thompson-Herah told reporters afterward, talking almost as fast as she’d just run at Olympic Stadium. “To show that I was clear?”

She knew the gesticulating might have cost her an added dimension of glory.” l think I could have gone faster if I wasn’t pointing and celebrating. I wanted to show that there is more in store, so hopefully one day I can unleash that.”

That day could be Tuesday, when Thompson-Herah will be defending the 200-metre crown she also claimed in Rio five years ago. It will be Showdown Part II with compatriot Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who finished second in the 100, at 10.74, thwarted in her quest to become the first woman to win three Olympic 100-metre golds after victories in Beijing in London. Shericka Jackson claimed bronze, with a personal best 10:76.

It was Fraser-Pryce though who, until late Saturday night, had been the fastest woman on the planet, with a time of 10.63 set in June. Fraser-Pryce had been touted to wear a crown of laurels in Tokyo, after the disappointment of bronze in Rio, where she was hobbled by a painful toe injury.

The 34-year-old Fraser-Pryce, who gave birth to her first child four years ago, is idolized in Jamaica, not just for myriad athletic accomplishments but for her philanthropy and social goodness, with a foundation that distributes scholarships to athlete-students. The girl who ran to school barefoot as a child made sure, when the pandemic hit, that her eponymic-named resource centre was stocked with computers so local children could continue their education.

She was clearly stunned when Thompson-Herah beat her across the finish line, walking in circles with an incredulous look on her face.

“It is crazy but my emotions are still very raw right now,” Fraser-Pryce admitted as she slogged through the mixed zone, pulled this way and that by TV crews clamouring for interviews with the Jamaican trio.

“I am very sure I am going to go home and probably have some tears. As I said, I have been through this many, many times. I am just really excited about what I was able to do tonight.”

It was a thrilling race, an absolutely magnificent performance. Insane really. Six of the eight women ran under 11 seconds.

“I’ve been injured so much, I’ve had my ups and downs,” said Thompson-Herah, who has been plagued with a persistent Achilles problem that dates back to 2018. “Last month, I didn’t think I would stand here to retain my title. I’m grateful I could get back on the track this year to train. Behind that smile and that Olympic record, I’m super-nervous.

“But I’ve been keeping faith all this time. I’m out here, talking to myself, ‘You’ve done this before, you were here before, you can do this, just execute.’ I knew I had it in me but I didn’t expect to run this fast even though I felt great during the (earlier) rounds.”

That this was indeed the showpiece event was made clear when the stadium was darkened just before the competitors were introduced, and laser lights illuminated the straightaway that had been turned into an elongated screen showing each woman’s name and national flag as their names were announced.

They had settled in to start, in side-by-side lanes, these two remarkable Jamaican women, Thompson-Herah and Fraser-Pryce, both with vividly dyed long ponytails, the latter lemon-yellow segueing to tangerine, the former a lesser psychedelic mellow yellow, held back with a sparkly headband. They’d both been stellar in their heats and the semifinals, commanding enough that they had been able to throttle down and breeze to the finish in those races, conserving energy for the final, only about two-and-a-half hours after the semis were completed.

Fraser-Pryce is renowned for her lightning start and she was fastest out of the blocks. Thompson-Herah, however, took control quickly, pulling away from the pack at the 40-metre mark. At 60 metres, powering through, she’d created clear separation, an insurmountable gap, and it was evident who would triumph. Thompson-Herah recognized it and started her victory semaphoring with 10 metres left.

Fraser-Pryce explained later: “I had a stumble and I never recovered from it.”

Adding: “I’m happy to be able to come out here and to represent and to compete for the championship. That’s always a plus, when you come out and you give it everything you have and then whatever happens, you walk away and you’re grateful for the opportunity and you move to the next one.

“As a mother in her fourth Olympic Games, to be able to stand again on the podium is a tremendous honour.”

But it stung that she wasn’t on the highest plinth, it so clearly stung, even as the Jamaican trio wrapped themselves in a giant flag and waved at the vacant seats as if there were tens of thousands watching.

At the pinnacle of her life, Thompson deserved to hear the roar. At least she could cheer herself.

“It shows tonight that Elaine is back. She wasn’t gone anywhere.”

Rosie DiManno is a Toronto-based columnist covering sports and current affairs for the Star. Follow her on Twitter: @rdimanno

Source : Toronto Star More   

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Tokyo soccer semifinal pits Canada against the U.S. again, and the Americans just might be beatable

The London 2012 Olympics was a coming-out party for the Canadian women’s soccer team. In capturing the country’s first medal — bronze — in a traditional team sport since 1936, the team also captured the hearts of a nation. That group of enchanted supporters included the likes of Ashley Lawrence, Jessie Fleming, Jordyn Huitema and many of their colleagues on the current Canadian team, which will face the United States in a rematch of a devastating semifinal loss nine years ago.“Just really experiencing that through the TV at home with my family, I just remember watching every game, making sure that, 30 minutes before kickoff, everything was set up and that I didn’t miss one minute. It was just so cool and really rare to have experienced,” Lawrence told Sportsnet’s “Top of Her Game” earlier this year. Canada’s squad in London, led by newly appointed head coach John Herdman, did not arrive as a medal favourite after finishing last at the previous Olympics. But support had swelled by the time Canada faced the U.S. in the tournament semifinal, a match since dubbed “the greatest game of women’s soccer ever played.” The 122-minute affair ended in a 4-3 loss for the underdog Canadians, who felt like the result was taken from them after some perplexing decisions by Norwegian referee Christina Pedersen, including a rarely called six-second violation against Canadian goalkeeper Erin McLeod in the 78th minute that turned into a free kick which, in turn, elicited a penalty call, giving the Americans the tying goal and a lifeline to an eventual victory.Messages of encouragement started flowing from Canada to Manchester, England, in the aftermath of the loss. Players began realizing the impression they were making back home. A last-gasp win against France in the bronze-medal game days later further endeared Canadians to the team and turned players such as captain Christine Sinclair and midfielder Diana Matheson, who scored the goal that got Canada on the podium, into household names.Fleming, 14 at the time and making her debut in the Canada youth program, remembers watching on television with her father, understanding that she was seeing something extraordinary, something she might eventually be able to do herself. Huitema, too, knew she wanted to be a part of that kind of thrilling contest. Sixteen of the 18 players on Canada’s current squad who did not play in London would have been between 11 and 18 years old at the time.Impressionable ages, to be sure. So while the motivation for Monday’s match will be clear for London 2012 veterans McLeod, Sinclair, Desiree Scott and Sophie Schmidt, it will also be personal to the team’s younger players. Managing that emotion will be key this time around. The Canadians can be at their best when playing with a chip on their shoulder, and that chip should be apparent on Monday. But the team can’t let a sense of redemption for 2012 overwhelm them.This might be Canada’s best chance at beating the U.S. The world’s No. 1 team hasn’t looked itself over the course of the Games. The Americans, for once, look beatable, lacking their normal sharpness and cohesion. If the Canadians are able to hold their line against the wealth of attacking options the U.S. boasts and get creative players like Nichelle Prince and Lawrence running at defenders like Kelley O’Hara, there’s a chance to turn the tables.Emotion is what drew many Canadians to the team in 2012. Lawrence remembers seeing Sinclair’s love and passion for the game during the semifinal against the U.S. It was why Lawrence played, too, why she still does, what inspired her to follow her soccer dreams. But keeping that in check Monday could drive the team to new heights, inspiring even more Canadians.Laura Armstrong is a Star sports reporter based in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter: @lauraarmy

Tokyo soccer semifinal pits Canada against the U.S. again, and the Americans just might be beatable

The London 2012 Olympics was a coming-out party for the Canadian women’s soccer team. In capturing the country’s first medal — bronze — in a traditional team sport since 1936, the team also captured the hearts of a nation.

That group of enchanted supporters included the likes of Ashley Lawrence, Jessie Fleming, Jordyn Huitema and many of their colleagues on the current Canadian team, which will face the United States in a rematch of a devastating semifinal loss nine years ago.

“Just really experiencing that through the TV at home with my family, I just remember watching every game, making sure that, 30 minutes before kickoff, everything was set up and that I didn’t miss one minute. It was just so cool and really rare to have experienced,” Lawrence told Sportsnet’s “Top of Her Game” earlier this year.

Canada’s squad in London, led by newly appointed head coach John Herdman, did not arrive as a medal favourite after finishing last at the previous Olympics. But support had swelled by the time Canada faced the U.S. in the tournament semifinal, a match since dubbed “the greatest game of women’s soccer ever played.” The 122-minute affair ended in a 4-3 loss for the underdog Canadians, who felt like the result was taken from them after some perplexing decisions by Norwegian referee Christina Pedersen, including a rarely called six-second violation against Canadian goalkeeper Erin McLeod in the 78th minute that turned into a free kick which, in turn, elicited a penalty call, giving the Americans the tying goal and a lifeline to an eventual victory.

Messages of encouragement started flowing from Canada to Manchester, England, in the aftermath of the loss. Players began realizing the impression they were making back home. A last-gasp win against France in the bronze-medal game days later further endeared Canadians to the team and turned players such as captain Christine Sinclair and midfielder Diana Matheson, who scored the goal that got Canada on the podium, into household names.

Fleming, 14 at the time and making her debut in the Canada youth program, remembers watching on television with her father, understanding that she was seeing something extraordinary, something she might eventually be able to do herself. Huitema, too, knew she wanted to be a part of that kind of thrilling contest. Sixteen of the 18 players on Canada’s current squad who did not play in London would have been between 11 and 18 years old at the time.

Impressionable ages, to be sure. So while the motivation for Monday’s match will be clear for London 2012 veterans McLeod, Sinclair, Desiree Scott and Sophie Schmidt, it will also be personal to the team’s younger players.

Managing that emotion will be key this time around. The Canadians can be at their best when playing with a chip on their shoulder, and that chip should be apparent on Monday. But the team can’t let a sense of redemption for 2012 overwhelm them.

This might be Canada’s best chance at beating the U.S. The world’s No. 1 team hasn’t looked itself over the course of the Games. The Americans, for once, look beatable, lacking their normal sharpness and cohesion. If the Canadians are able to hold their line against the wealth of attacking options the U.S. boasts and get creative players like Nichelle Prince and Lawrence running at defenders like Kelley O’Hara, there’s a chance to turn the tables.

Emotion is what drew many Canadians to the team in 2012. Lawrence remembers seeing Sinclair’s love and passion for the game during the semifinal against the U.S. It was why Lawrence played, too, why she still does, what inspired her to follow her soccer dreams. But keeping that in check Monday could drive the team to new heights, inspiring even more Canadians.

Laura Armstrong is a Star sports reporter based in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter: @lauraarmy

Source : Toronto Star More   

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