RIO DE JANEIRO — A little smile appeared to form on Elaine Thompson’s face as she took her final steps across the finish line. Soon, it expanded into a look of full incredulity, her mouth agape. And seconds later, as she began to process that she had won the gold medal in the women’s 100-meter dash, she began hopping up and down on both feet, arms out at her sides.
By then, she looked a bit dazed.
Thompson, 24, of Jamaica, claimed the mantle as the world’s fastest woman on Saturday night at Olympic Stadium, surging across the finish line in 10.71 seconds, comfortably ahead of her nearest opponents, to set off her vivid rainbow of emotions.
“I didn’t quite know how to celebrate,” Thompson said.
Tori Bowie, 25, of Jackson, Miss., took the silver medal with a time of 10.83. Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce of Jamaica fell short in her bid for a third straight Olympic gold in the race, finishing in 10.86 for the bronze.
Minutes after the race, the three posed for photos, shoulder to shoulder. Thompson seemed to be holding back tears.
She said she was thinking about her friends and family back home who were watching her compete on a big screen. “I can’t imagine what is happening there right now,” Thompson said.
Thompson had launched herself into the stratum of the Olympic favorites with a strong showing at the Jamaican national trials in July. She ran a 10.70 there, which remains the fastest time in the world this year.
In the same race, Fraser-Pryce, 29, who won gold in the event in 2008 in Beijing and 2012 in London, came across as vulnerable, running a 10.93 behind Thompson while battling a lingering foot injury. She said the pain on Saturday was still “really bad.”
On Saturday night, Fraser-Pryce actually finished with the same time, to the hundredths of a second, a Marie-Josee Ta Lou of the Ivory Coast. Officials reviewed finish-line footage from cameras that can capture thousands of frames per second to award Fraser-Pryce the bronze.
“It has definitely been a very hard journey,” Fraser-Pryce said about her pain. “It’s part of athletics. It’s part of sports. It’s part of the story you tell. I was excited to have the opportunity to defend my title.”
Bowie finished third at the world championships last year in Beijing with a time of 10.86. She is set to compete in the 200 and the 4×100 relay in Rio.
“I said I was going to come in with no expectations and focus on what it is I need to do to execute my race,” Bowie said.
The night, though, belonged to the Jamaicans. Fraser-Pryce said she was happy that the title had remained with the country, and she beamed as she described her relationship with Thompson, whom she has tried to mentor over the years and considered a close friend.
“I’ve tried to assist and give her guidance as best I can,” Fraser-Pryce said of Thompson. “I think she did fantastic tonight.” […]
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