RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil, Aug 18 – Elaine Thompson described herself as a “warrior” as she overcame a hamstring injury to seal the first women’s Olympic sprint double in 28 years.
Fresh from bagging 100m gold, Thompson timed a season’s best of 21.78 seconds to trump Dutch favourite Dafne Schippers, who won silver in 21.88sec at the Olympic Stadium on Wednesday.
The Jamaican follows in the footsteps of Veronica Campbell-Brown, 200m winner at the 2004 and 2008 Olympics, and also Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who claimed 100m gold in Beijing and the London Games four years ago.
“I spent my childhood growing up watching Veronica and then Shelley-Ann,” Thompson said.
But the Jamaican said she had not harboured such golden hopes coming in to the Rio Games.
“My expectation coming into these Olympics was that I just wanted to run as smooth as possible,” she said with some understatement.
“I had a hamstring injury at the national trials. But I didn’t let that overcome me. I treated it the best I could, but it wasn’t that bad.
“I had some rough days training but… I’m a warrior, I’m strong inside and I trained hard.
“It’s amazing. It all paid off.”
It certainly did, as Thompson went on to win a first Olympic sprint double since American world record holder Florence Griffith Joyner’s at the Seoul Games in 1988.
“I’ve seen videos and photos of her,” acknowledged the Stephen Francis-coached Jamaican, who just two seasons ago was running 23.23sec for the 200m.
Turning to the actual race, Thompson said that given Schippers’ renowned fast final 50 metres, it had been essential to remain focused.
“I know Dafne is a strong finisher, but I’m a strong finisher as well,” she said.
“I just went out there, kept my composure and executed straight away.”
– Schippers devastated –
Schippers was at first left devastated by the result before slowly coming around to accepting her silver after admitting she nearly didn’t even make the start list.
“I came for the gold, I’m not happy with the silver,” said Schippers, who won gold in last year’s Beijing world championships with 21.63sec, the fourth fastest time ever run over the distance.
“But two days before start of 100m I had a problem with my leg and it was very hard for my mind. I’m very happy to be here and run 100 and 200 and get a silver medal,” she said.
“Let’s go for the next four years and move on to next Games!
“All eight girls came to win here. When you’re in a final you want to win.
“I have to think about the process after the 100m. I’m very happy to be here with the silver medal,” Schippers said, explaining that there had been a chance she might have missed out on the longer sprint because of her injury.
American Tori Bowie claimed bronze (22.15) to go with the silver she won in the 100m.