Moments In Time: The race that made Elaine Thompson

By August 10, 2020

Elaine Thompson-Herah looks a woman who is back to her fabulous best.

Early in an Olympic year, she is already producing very fast times and all things being equal where injuries and loss of form are concerned, she should be challenging for two Olympic titles in Tokyo next year.

Thompson-Herah, not unlike a certain Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, rose from relative obscurity to beat the world and this may be courtesy of another great Jamaican in the field of athletics, her coach, Stephen Francis.

Who can forget the World Championships of 2015 when Thompson-Herah, then just Thompson, finished second in one of the greatest women’s 200-metre races of all time.

Just a year earlier, Thompson’s best over 200 metres had been 23.23, but she had shown promise over 100 metres, clocking 11.17 in 2014, before lowering that to 10.84 at a meet in Eugene not long before the World Champions.

It was something of a surprise that she would not be contesting the 100 at the World Championships, with Francis setting her up to run the 200 in Beijing, China.

Thompson had not run that many 200s and while Jamaicans were quietly hopeful that she could get on the podium, it was not a certainty.

In May of that year, Thompson had run 22.37, but while quick, it was slower than the times of The Netherland’s Dafne Schippers and the United States’ Candice McGrone, who had run 22.09 and 22.08 seconds respectively at a Diamond League meeting in Monaco.

That is until eight days after that meet when Thompson ran 22.10 to be hot on their heels.

On the 26th of August 2015, Thompson cruised through heat 4 in Beijing to win in 22.78 seconds.

For someone, who a year earlier hadn’t broken 22 seconds, she looked good.

But Dina Asher-Smith of Great Britain was quick, qualifying with a personal best 22.22, while Schippers looked smooth, shutting down long before she would end her heat in 22.58 seconds.

The race was wide open.

On August 27, Thompson showed she was in just as good a form as the 22.10 personal best she had run earlier in the year, clocking 22.13 to get the better of McGrone, who finished in 22.26 to march into the final with the quickest time.

Schippers with 22.36 was also comfortable, looking like she could go a lot faster.

Asher-Smith was faster too, stopping the clock at 22.12 seconds for yet another personal best.

The following day, Friday, August 28, 2015, produced, arguably the most exciting 200 the world had ever seen.

Thompson, was out of the blocks in a hurry, running a blinding curve to leave everybody in her wake coming off the curve.

The time was going to be fast. Very fast.

But Thompson wasn’t at her strongest yet and though she has never run faster, she faded toward the end, with Schippers, using her formidable heptathlon strength to close like a train.

Nobody else was in the frame.

Schippers was closing and Elaine began straining, just at the line, the Dutchwoman dipped, the difference was .03 of a second.

Thompson was second in 21.66 seconds, Schippers was a World Champion in a championship record 21.63.

Another Jamaican, Veronica Campbell-Brown, with a season’s best 21.97, was also on the podium. The time, though not as quick as Campbell-Brown had gone in her life, was the quickest she had gone in a very long time, the experienced legs of the many-time world-beater, finding a way to get onto the podium.

Behind Campbell-Brown, were McGrone in 22.01, and Asher-Smith, in a national record, 22.07.
Though Thompson did not win, the race signalled the birth of a star.

Paul-Andre Walker

Paul-Andre is the Managing Editor at SportsMax.tv. He comes to the role with almost 20 years of experience as journalist. That experience includes all facets of media. He began as a sports Journalist in 2001, quickly moving into radio, where he was an editor before becoming a news editor and then an entertainment editor with one of the biggest media houses in the Caribbean.

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