Elaine Thompson-Herah is a Jamaican sprinter who specializes in the 100 meters and 200 meters. She is the first woman to ever successfully defend the 100 meters and the 200 meters Olympic titles, achieving the landmark feat at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
Thompson-Herah is a four-time Olympic champion who became a sprinting phenomenon after winning gold in the 100 and 200 meters both at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
Thompson is a native of Banana Ground in Manchester Parish, Jamaica. Running for Christiana High School and later Manchester High School, Thompson was a good but not outstanding scholastic sprinter; her best result at the Jamaican ISSA Grace Kennedy Boys and Girls Championships came in 2009, when she placed fourth in the Class Two 100 metres in 12.01 seconds. In 2011, her final year at Manchester High, she was left off the track team for disciplinary reasons.
After high school, she was recruited to the University of Technology, Jamaica by Paul Francis, brother of MVP Track Club head coach Stephen Francis. With MVP coaching, Thompson’s times started improving steadily.
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In 2021, she set an Olympic & National Record of 10.61 seconds in the 100 meters at the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics, making her the fastest woman alive and respectively the second fastest woman in history. At present, she also ranks as the second-fastest woman in the 200 meters with a time of 21.53 seconds, achieved in the final run of the 200 meters event at the Tokyo Olympics.Thompson-Herah began competing internationally in 2013 and made her individual breakthrough in 2015 when she achieved her first mark below 11 seconds in the 100 meters and set her personal best of 21.66 seconds in the 200 meters. She was the 2019 Pan American Games champion and a two-time Diamond League winner. The “Sprint Queen” had unquestionably established herself as one of the greatest female sprinters of all time, second only to the late Florence Griffith Joyner.
In 2013, she clocked a seasonal best of 11.41s at the Gibson Replays and placed second behind Carrie Russell at the Jamaican Intercollegiate Championships. At the Central American and Caribbean Championships in Morelia, she won gold in the 4 × 100 m relay, running the first leg on the Jamaican team as it won in 43.58s.
In 2014, Thompson won her first intercollegiate title, placed fifth in 11.26s at the national championships, and had a seasonal best of 11.17s. She represented Jamaica at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, running in the 4 × 100 m relay heats; Jamaica won their heat in 42.44s, and went on to win gold in the final with Thompson-Herah not in the line-up.
In 2020, Thompson-Herah ran seven 100m races clocking five sub-11s times, with a seasons-best of 10.85s (10.73s with illegal wind). She won two Diamond League meets, which were staged in 2020 as one-off events due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the 200m, her season-best was 22.19s.
In June 2021, at the Jamaican Championships, she placed third in her two signature events with 10.84s and 22.02s respectively, qualifying in both for the delayed 2020 Tokyo Olympics. On 6 July, she achieved 10.71s in the 100m, her fastest time since 2017 and 0.01s off her PB, to defeat Fraser-Pryce’s 10.82s and win the Continental Tour’s Székesfehérvár Memorial in Hungary, setting a meet record. Marie-Josée Ta Lou was third in 10.86s.
At the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, Thompson-Herah placed first in the women’s 100 meters final, winning the gold medal as fellow Jamaican athletes Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Shericka Jackson received the silver and bronze medals, respectively. She achieved the equal second-fastest time in history, with an Olympic record of 10.61 seconds, breaking Florence Griffith-Joyner’s Olympic record of 10.62s set in 1988; which makes her the fastest woman alive.
Competing in the 200 meters, she first equaled her PB of 21.66s in the semi-finals. In the final, she won the gold medal in 200 meters with a personal best time of 21.53. Photo Credit: Getty