"We are robbing ourselves and the sport of its greatness"-Michael Johnson says Fraser-Pryce and Thompson-Herah don't get enough credit

By Sports Desk July 05, 2022

Former Olympic champion Michael Johnson, who won two gold medals at the 1996 Atlanta Games, believes that Jamaican sprinting icons Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Elaine Thompson-Herah are underappreciated.

In an interview with Athletics Weekly, the former 200m and 400m world record holder offered an interesting new lens to look at the sport, saying we should focus on head-to-head duels rather than fixating on times.

Johnson said that nowadays, track and field is too focused on the times and not focused enough on the rivalry and the storytelling behind the scenes as well, and the women’s 100m rivalry between Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Elaine Thompson-Herah is a perfect opportunity to showcase that.

“Yeah, I mean I would say that it’s a perfect example of the problem because I don’t think that Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce or Elaine Thompson-Herah get enough credit for what they’ve done in the sport because we’re so focused on times,” said Johnson.

“So, you know right now I can see that you know what’s going to happen most likely with Elaine is, there’s going to continue for the remained of her career unless she breaks the World record in the 100m, a focus now on whether she breaks the world record or not and if she doesn’t, you know there’s a danger that people will be disappointed,” he said.

The 29-year-old Thompson-Herah is a five-time Olympic champion and the 100m and 200m title holder from both Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020.

At 35, Fraser-Pryce has three Olympic gold medals – eight medals in total – including the gold-standard 100m crown won at both Beijing 2008 and London 2012. She is also a nine-time world champion and the reigning world gold medallist at 100m.

“I mean, then the fact that you have at the same time these two women from this very small island, who go head-to-head you know at these championships and they, between the two of them, they’ve won the gold medals in the 100m over the last four Olympic Games,” said Johnson.

The current 100m world record has stood since 1988, Florence Griffith-Joyner, also known as Flo-Jo, became the only woman ever to break the 10.5-second barrier with a run of 10.49 at the US Olympic trials in 1988. Since then, many have deemed the mark impossible to beat – not least because of controversy regarding possible wind assistance at those trials.

Johnson feels instead of focusing on the world record, we should be focused more on these athletes and their ability to deliver when it counts at championships.

“You know that’s incredible and I think that should be celebrated. And if I think if we were focused more on these athletes and their ability to deliver when it counts at championships and win the head-to-head battle as opposed to well this time and what was the wind and you know is it a national record and how close is it to the world record and all of those things, I think we are robbing ourselves and the sport of its greatness,” he said.

 

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  • 10.62! Shelly runs another world-leading time as Caribbean athletes impress in Monaco 10.62! Shelly runs another world-leading time as Caribbean athletes impress in Monaco

    It was yet another world-leading run for Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce at the Meeting Herculis EBS Diamond League in Monaco on Wednesday but this time the field was closer; a lot closer.

    The 35-year-old Jamaican ran a meet record of 10.62 for victory but Shericka Jackson ran a lifetime best of 10.71 to take the runner-up spot just ahead of Marie Jose Ta Lou, who ran a personal best and area record 10.72 for third.

    Aleia Hobbs of the United States equalled her season-best 10.81 for fourth.

    This was the record-extending sixth consecutive final in which the diminutive Jamaican has run faster than 10.70 seconds and the two-time Olympic champion was quite pleased with the performance but hinted that she is planning to take a break after what has been an intense schedule.

    “I had now three back-to-back races so I will take some time for recovery and see what I´m able to do with some rest before I come back,” she said.

    “I did what I needed to do and we had fun and let the clock do the talking. I cannot be disappointed with the season. To be able to run 10.6 consistently means a lot to me. It is remarkable. It is very hard to keep the speed at this high level.

    “I´m in my late 30’s and I think I feel like I have more to give. I look forward to doing my personal best for the rest of the season and run fast.”

    The Jamaican speed-queen was not the only Caribbean winner at the meet on the night as Shaunae Miller-Uibo of the Bahamas raced to a fast 49.28 to win the 400m in commanding fashion over Candice McLeod who ran a season-best 49.89, her first time under 50 seconds for the season. Finishing third was Commonwealth Games champion Sada Williams, who ran 51.10.

    Commonwealth Games finalist Rushell Clayton ran a brand new lifetime best of 53.33 to win the 400m hurdles to defeat Commonwealth Games champion Janieve Russell, who ran a season-best 53.52.

    Panama’s Gianna Woodruff was third in 54.13.

    Natoya Goule rebounded from the disappointment of just missing out on a medal at the Commonwealth Games to run a season-best 1:56.98.

    Goule won by five metres ahead Sage Hurta ran a new personal best of 1:57.85. Her compatriot Olivia Baker was third in a season-best 1:58:05.

    “I feel extremely proud because I finally dropped the time under 57. I knew it was in me…this is really the track where you can run fast but I am just thankful for the win and the season best,” said Goule who missed out on a medal by 0.01 at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

    “I just wanted to ensure I ran a smart race because it was getting fast. I am glad that I finished strong because sometimes when you run 56, you do not have the kick but I still got it today. I was so happy when I crossed the line and saw the time. It would be nice to get a PR this season. I know it is a bit challenging but I take it step by step.”

    Hansle Parchment, still recovering from the injury that kept him out of the finals of the 110m hurdles at the 2022 World Championships and the Commonwealth Games ran a season-best 13.08 but finished third to Grant Holloway, who ran a 12.99 season-best for the win.

    NCAA champion Trey Cunningham ran 13.03 for second place.

    In the field, Shanieka Ricketts jumped 14.91, her second-best mark of the season to be runner-up to Olympic and World Champion Yulimar Rojas, who needed a mark of 15.01 to take the win.

    The USA’s Tori Franklin jumped a lifetime best of 14.86 for third place.

    Noah Lyles of the USA raced to a meet record 19.46 to win the 200m leaving teen sensation Erriyon Knighton 19.84 and Michael Norman 19.95 floundering in his wake.

     

     

     

     

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