Two of the longest-standing world records in athletics could be in danger after Elaine Thompson-Herah’s stunning 100-metre run at the Eugene Diamond League event on Saturday.
The back-to-back Olympic 100m and 200m champion wiped the floor with the rest of the field in the Oregon showpiece, leading home a repeat of the Jamaican 1-2-3 in Tokyo in a personal-best time of 10.54 seconds which was just 0.05s slower than the late Florence-Griffith Joyner’s 33-year-old world-record mark.
After beating second-placed Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce by 0.19s, Thompson-Herah was clearly stunned by the time she had clocked, and she admitted to reporters afterwards that her performance surprised her coming so soon after the Tokyo Olympics.
“To come back with a personal best after the Olympics, that’s amazing,” the 29-year-old said. “I haven’t run that fast in five years.”
And she was quick to rise to the challenge when she was asked whether both the 100m and 200m world records could be hers before long.
“I have so much more in me, so yes, it’s possible.”
Griffith-Joyner currently holds both records, having run the 200m in just 21.34s at the 1988 Seoul Olympics. Earlier that summer she had completed the 100m in 10.49 at an event in Inidanapolis, and that mark remains the quickest run in history by a female.
After becoming only the second person ever to defend both 100m and 200m Olympic sprinting titles, with Usain Bolt the only previous successor, Thompson-Herah certainly has to be taken seriously as a potential world-record holder at both distances.
She is arguably peaking at the right age, with her 200m effort in Tokyo – like her 100m run in Eugene on Saturday – having been the fastest since Flo-Jo’s record breaker and the second-quickest of all time. That came after having bettered Fraser-Pryce’s 10.63 season-best mark with a 10.61 gold-medal-winning show at the Olympics.
And with the likes of Fraser-Pryce, Shericka Jackson – who finished third in Eugene – Sha’Carri Richardson and Dina Asher-Smith pushing her to her limits in both disciplines, there is clearly the motivation to go on and push the boundaries beyond the spectre of Griffith-Joyner’s legendary returns.
She’s also fit now. Having struggled for much of 2021 with an Achilles tendon injury, she bounced back to fitness in Tokyo and appears to be getting better by the race.
“I have been struggling with my injury back and forth,” she told the BBC after her Olympic triumph. “I see all the bad comments. I take all of my losses, all of my defeats, and I use them as my motivation.”
With that kind of attitude and displays like the one she put on in Eugene, who would back against Thompson-Herah finally deposing the legendary Florence Griffith-Joyner as the undisputed greatest female sprinter in history?