Elaine Thompson-Herah from Jamaica crosses the finish line and wins the gold medal in the 100 meters.
Pawel Kopczynski | REUTERS
Jamaican sprinter Elaine Thompson-Herah flew to the 100m gold on Saturday and became the fastest woman in the world when she denied compatriot Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce a third Olympic title.
By retaining her title, Thompson-Herah added a sparkling bloom to a day when American gymnast Simone Biles had pulled out of two more finals in Tokyo, and a listless Novak Djokovic failed to take the bronze in tennis after his dream of a “Golden Slam” was dotted.
Thompson-Herah led a Jamaican 100m podium sweep with Shericka Jackson in third. The champion’s lightning-fast time of 10.61 seconds has only been improved by the late Florence Griffith-Joyner, who set a world record of 10.49 in 1988.
“I put everything in it, I gave it 100 and I would say I’m ready, super ready, but I just had to keep my cool to come out here and take it piece by piece,” she said .
“It shows tonight that Elaine is back. She wasn’t going anywhere.’
The day had started with local fans defying a spectator ban to catch a glimpse of the triathlon. Crowds lined the streets of Odaiba Marine Park on Tokyo’s waterfront, defying Olympic personnel carrying placards and megaphones, asking them not to gather at the roadside to watch the event.
The setbacks to stars like Biles and Djokovic were in a way befitting of the unlikely Games, which take place without spectators amid an ever-widening pandemic. Minutes after his defeat in singles, Djokovic withdrew from the bronze medal game in mixed doubles.
New Covid-19 infections reached 4,058 in Tokyo, a new record and the first time above 4,000. The government has extended the state of emergency in the capital and extended it to neighboring prefectures.
Swimmers Katie Ledecky and Caeleb Dressel regained some lost luster for America, while Lyu Xiaojun took gold in men’s weightlifting, bringing China’s win in the medal to 21. Japan has 17 gold medals and the United States ranks 16.
In the first cases of doping at the Games, two sprinters, Kenyan Mark Otieno and Nigerian Blessing Okagbare, were provisionally suspended after they tested positive for banned substances.
American BMX racer Connor Fields was released from intensive care after suffering a brain haemorrhage during his horrific crash the day before. Originally one of the big favorites for gold, Fields went down hard in a first corner crash during the semi-finals.
Much of the focus at the Games has been on superstar Biles, who stunned the world this week when she retired from team competition after a poor opening jump and then refused to defend her all-around crown, citing concerns for her mental and physical well-being.
“Today, after further consultation with the medical staff, Simone Biles has decided to withdraw from the vault and uneven bars finals,” USA Gymnastics said, adding that she would be evaluated daily to see if she would participate in the final for the floor exercise and the balance beam.
Her outspokenness has brought the issue of athletes’ mental health into the limelight and sparked an outpouring of support around the world. She has talked about the ‘twisties’, incidents of disorientation, during some of her gravity-defying skills.
Djokovic, who won a bronze medal in singles in Beijing in 2008 but failed to finish on the podium in London, Rio and now Tokyo, withdrew from mixed doubles minutes after his defeat to Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta in the bronze singles.
On Friday, the Serb lost to Germany’s Alexander Zverev in the singles semi-final, wiping out his hopes of winning an Olympic gold plus all four Grand Slams this year for a ‘Golden Slam’.
His withdrawal from the mixed doubles means that Ash Barty and John Peers, the world number one, will win a bronze medal for Australia.
In the swim, Ledecky and Dressel contributed to their medal win and took some pain away from what has so far been a disappointing Games for the U.S. swim team, whose eight gold medals are only half of their total from Rio. read more
Ledecky, who lost her 200m and 400m titles to Australian Ariarne Titmus before beating her in the 1,500, became the first female swimmer on Saturday to win six individual gold medals and take home the 800m.
“She made it difficult and that’s why it was a lot of fun to race,” Ledecky said.
World champion Dressel stormed to the 100m butterfly in world record time and took his second individual gold to add to the gold he won in the 4×100 freestyle relay.
Great Britain won the Olympic Games’ inaugural mixed 4×100 medley relay for their fourth swimming gold, a world record time. Britain’s four gold medals in the pool mark their best return to swimming events in more than a century.