BRUSSELS, Belgium, Sep 8 – Double Olympic sprint champion Elaine Thompson insisted Thursday that she was not the female version of Jamaican teammate Usain Bolt, who sealed a treble-treble of Olympic golds in last month’s Rio Games.
Thompson blasted to victories in both the 100 and 200 metres in the Brazilian city to mirror Bolt’s feat and is unbeaten this season, having got the better of Dutch rival Dafne Schippers, who beat her to the world 200m title in Beijing last season.
“Oh no, I’m not the next Usain Bolt!” she said ahead of Friday’s season-ending Diamond League meet in Brussels when she will be up against Schippers once again.
“Usain is unique, I guess that I am just the next Elaine Thompson.”
Thompson set a personal best over 100m of 10.70 seconds in winning Olympic gold, meaning the Brussels meet record of 10.72sec set by Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce in 2013 could be under threat.
“She’s my soul mother, she taught me so much,” Thompson said of Fraser-Pryce. “I’m looking for a fast time, it’s my last 100 of the season, but I’m still healthy and in good shape.
“I’m really looking forward to this race and the weather conditions are great, they’re even Jamaican-like,” joked the 24-year-old, whose coach Stephen Francis has predicted she will be able to run 10.60sec.
“I trust my coach and I believe what he says,” she said. “My start was always a problem, but we’ve been working hard on that this year and it paid off.”
– Title at stake –
The Diamond Race, with $40,000 (35,460 euros) up for grabs for the winner of the 100m discipline, will be decided on Friday, Thompson enjoying a narrow lead over Schippers going into the race at the King Baudouin stadium.
“It was not really in my focus at the start of the season but now that I’m close it would be great if I could catch that trophy,” said Thompson.
The Jamaican has not yet returned home since her achievements in Rio, but admitted she was looking forward to heading back to Manchester.
“After the Diamond League final I return back to Jamaica to celebrate what I have achieved in Rio,” she said.
“I’ll be happy to see my family back. I’m the oldest and the only athlete in a family with five brothers and one sister.
“It’s hard to be the champion but I’m staying focused. There is now a pressure that wasn’t there before.
“It would have been a distraction going back to Jamaica and I think there are going to be some things planned when I get there so I’m looking forward to celebrating with family and friends.”
Former heptathlete Schippers said she was only now content with feeling at home away from the multi-discipline event.
“I’m now very happy with being in the sprint world, because it’s not easy,” said the Dutchwoman, adding that she was looking forward to “home” support on Friday.
“In the heptathlon, it’s a very small, easy world. All the girls are very relaxed and we talked about things. In the sprints, I get on with the European girls but it’s a much bigger world and, after last year, there is more pressure, but I think I can handle it.”