Even before she crossed the finish line, she began gesturing with her left arm and shouting in delight.
Elaine Thompson-Herah thought she wouldn’t be able to compete in the Tokyo Olympics a month and a half ago as she battled a nagging Achilles injury. She is now not only an Olympic gold medalist, but also an Olympic record holder.
On Saturday, her time of 10.61 seconds broke Florence Griffith Joyner’s 33-year-old record set in Seoul, leading to a clean sweep of the podium for Jamaica, with Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce in second and Shericka Jackson in third.
Was it possible to beat Griffith Joyner’s world record of 10.49 seconds? Thompson-Herah told reporters, “Most definitely if I wasn’t celebrating.” Asked again about the world record, she added: “I’m still working, it’s a work in progress … Anything is possible.”
The 29-year-old won her third Olympic gold medal, following her victories in the 100m and 200m in Rio five years ago.
Between 2008 and 2016, another Jamaican, Usain Bolt, won three consecutive Olympic 100m gold medals, and Thompson-Herah now has a chance to do the same in Paris.
“Behind this 10.6 was a lot of nerves, and I said: ‘You can do this, you’ve been here before, just execute,'” she told reporters.
“I have more years. I’m just 29; I’m not 30, I’m not 40. I’m still working.”
The final was held in the near-empty surroundings of the 68,000-seat Olympic Stadium, as fans were barred from attending Olympic events in Tokyo due to the pandemic.
The minutes leading up to the race, however, were not devoid of energy or excitement thanks to an impressive light show.
As the names of each competitor were announced to the few spectators scattered around the arena, the stadium lighting was dimmed and the track illuminated with their names — a dazzling precursor befitting of an event that promised great drama after six athletes ran under 11 seconds in the heats on Friday.
Thompson-Herah was neck-and-neck with Fraser-Pryce at the halfway point before pulling away in the final stages, and those in attendance on a hot, humid evening in Tokyo were not disappointed.
Fraser-Pryce, the defending world champion, now has two golds, a silver, and a bronze in the 100m over four Olympic Games, while Jackson, who finished third in 10.76, adds to her 4x400m silver and 400m bronze from Rio.
It was a rematch of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, when three Jamaican athletes — Fraser-Pryce, Sherone Simpson, and Kerrone Stewart — finished first and second, respectively.
When asked about the likely celebrations back home in Jamaica, Fraser-Pryce said, “I’m hoping they’re not defying the curfew orders, but I’m sure it’s going to be remarkable to have three of our ladies stand on the podium like we did in 2008, it’s incredible.
“I’m hoping that they’re celebrating with a lot of positive energy and they’re celebrating each and every one of the athletes and just continue to support us. There’s a long way to go, we have the 200m and 4x100m.”
The heats for the 200m begin on Monday, with the final taking place the next day.
Thompson-Herah, Fraser-Pryce, and Jackson, who has moved down from the 400m to sprinting events, will face stiff competition from Gabby Thomas of the United States and Shaunae Miller-Uibo of the Bahamas.
But, based on Friday’s race, another Jamaican one-two-three, as well as even faster times, isn’t completely out of the question.
Outside of the top three, Marie-Josee Ta Lou of the Ivory Coast finished fourth for the second consecutive Olympics with a time of 10.91, while Dina Asher-Smith of the United Kingdom was a surprise omission from the final after failing to qualify earlier on Friday.
She later stated that due to an injury, she would be unable to compete in the 200m.