Elaine Thompson-Herah entered the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games as a contender attempting an unprecedented repeat of a double sprint gold medallist.
However, the manner and ease in which she decimated her semi-final field in a smart 10.76 seconds was a clear and unmistakable indication that she was in a different league and that the final two hours and 35 minutes later would be a mere formality.
An extremely bold statement considering that one of the prerace favourites was the fastest woman alive and the second-fastest woman in history, the two-time Olympic Games 100m gold medallist Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who had clocked a sparkling 10.63 seconds earlier in the season.
Thompson-Herah had not been the same supreme athlete since registering her double gold medals in Rio in 2016, having been bothered by a troublesome Achilles injury.
But there were rumours that she was in the best shape of her life and that her MVP Track Club had gone to great lengths to expend significant resources to treat her Achilles injury. The rest is history.
In the 100m final Thompson-Herah collared Fraser-Pryce from early and drew away in the final quarter of the race to register an Olympic record of 10.61 seconds. Fraser-Pryce was second in 10.74 seconds and Jamaica completed a clean sweep when Shericka Jackson finished third in a personal best of 10.76 seconds.
Only Florence Griffith-Joyner’s world record 10.49 seconds has been faster.
Then three days later the 29-year-old became the first woman to repeat an Olympic Games sprint double when she squandered the field including Fraser-Pryce to win in a national record of 21.53 seconds.
She had equalled her personal best 21.66 seconds in the semi-finals, after opening the heats with a gentle 22.86 seconds for third in heat six of seven.
And when Thompson-Herah teamed up with the brilliant teenager Briana Williams, Fraser-Pryce and Jackson, they proved too strong in the 4x100m relay, winning in a national record 41.02 seconds. It was Thompson-Herah’s perfect third gold medal of the Games and the fifth over the last two editions, plus a silver medal in the 4x100m relays from the Rio Games.
Fraser-Pryce was rightly considered one of the greatest female sprinters of all time with her outstanding record in the sprints since her impressive debut at the Beijing Games in 2008.
But what Elaine Thompson-Herah delivered over these past two Games, means that she deserves the utmost respect and as of now must bet in any conversation regarding the pre-eminent women’s sprinters of all time.
“The mission was to go out there and capture that medal. It means a lot to be in that record book because I’ve been through a lot and I think this tells my story.
“I know a lot of young girls and kids (are) at home watching, especially the ones who compete at Boys’ and Girls’ Championships, I know their dream one day is to be an Olympian so for me to set a barrier for them I know this will help to motivate them to show that the can do it, they can overcome their obstacles and be like me,” Thompson-Herah told the Jamaican media then.
Take a bow, Mrs Elaine Thompson-Herah!