Updates on the Tokyo Olympics
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It is 33 years since Florence Griffith-Joyner set the current world record in the women’s 100 meters. A generation later, one of the greatest fields of female sprinters ever to come together has a chance to pick it up.
The women’s 100m race is set to be the race for the Tokyo Olympics, with two defending gold medalists and some of the fastest times ever run since FloJo’s lightning fast 10.49 performance in 1988.
In first round qualifiers on Friday, sprinters set or equalized three national records, one African record and two personal bests.
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, the 2008 and 2012 champion and bronze medalist of 2016, is favorite after running 10.63 during a race in her native Jamaica in June, the second fastest time in history.
When asked in Tokyo if she could improve it, she said, “Definitely.”
The reason for the brilliant times, several of the sprinters said, was the fierce competition.
“Everyone just comes to the event,” said American athlete Jenna Prandini. “If someone is running fast, everyone wants to be competitive and get to that level as well. I think it’s just a joint effort that we are all competitive with each other. ”
Fraser-Pryce said there are too many talented women in the field to distinguish one of the best challengers: “There is competition with everyone.”
After three Olympics where the world’s eyes were on her compatriot Usain Bolt, she’s excited that women are in the spotlight. ‘It’s long overdue for female sprints. I hope it definitely lives up to expectations. ”
Bolt said he was more excited about the 100 meters for women in Tokyo than for men the guardian earlier this month that “the women’s final will no doubt be more interesting”.
But there was a glimmer of tension in Tokyo National Stadium on Friday when some of the top sprinters were asked about the absence of Sha’Carri Richardson. The American, who ran 10.72 this year to make her a strong contender for the gold, is not competing in Tokyo after testing positive for marijuana.
‘I’m not here to talk about Sha’Carri. I do not know how it will help us now, “said Blessing Okagbare from Nigeria.
Fraser-Pryce and defending champion Elaine Thompson-Herah made no comment and suddenly walked away from reporters.
Ivory Coast’s Marie-Josee Ta Lou, who led the first round with an African record of 10.78, said she was ‘in shock’ about the fast times run on the first match day in Tokyo.
‘I really did not expect to run as fast as I just did. I’ve never run here before. I did not even practice in the warm-up area. So this is my first time and I said, ‘wow!’
There may be some technical variables contributing to the pace of this year. The introduction of carbon fiber tracks since the last Olympics is widely recognized because it has helped runners reach faster times in distances from the 100 meters to the marathon.
The hot and humid weather of Tokyo is also favored by sprinters, who say it prevents muscles from getting stiff and allows for more fluid running dynamics. “It’s good to run in the heat because there’s less pressure,” Fraser-Pryce said.
Fraser-Pryce also acknowledges her actions by taking a year to get a boy between the Rio and Tokyo Olympics to ‘rejuvenate my motivation’.
Is the strongest team since FloJo increasing the pressure? “Are you kidding?” says Teahna Daniels, the top American qualifier for Saturday’s final. “This is the race that is most expected, and just to be in it, just to compete, I soak every moment.”