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Previews11 Jul 2022

WCH Oregon22 preview: 100m


Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Fred Kerley (© Getty Images / AFP)

Women's 100m

Timetable | world rankings | 2022 world list | world all-time list | how it works

If the US men look dominant in the 100m, the Jamaican women appear downright invincible.

The trio of Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Elaine Thompson-Herah and Shericka Jackson headline a Jamaican team that threatens to sweep the medals in Eugene at the World Athletics Championships Oregon22.

Hayward Field could easily see a repeat of last year’s Tokyo Olympic Games, where Thompson-Herah, Fraser-Pryce and Jackson finished 1-2-3. Only the order could be different this time as all three have shown the form to take the top spot.

The three Jamaicans top the world list in the 100m, led by reigning champion Fraser-Pryce with 10.67 ahead of Jackson’s 10.77 and Thompson-Herah’s 10.79. All three are also scheduled to contest the 200m in Eugene.

While Thompson-Herah and Jackson are both seeking their first individual world titles, Fraser-Pryce is looking to burnish an already astounding medal collection.

The 35-year-old “Pocket Rocket” has established herself as the favourite as she aims for a fifth world 100m title to go with her two Olympic golds in the event. Fraser-Pryce could add to her world outdoor collection of nine individual and relay gold medals and 11 overall. 

Fraser-Pryce has shown amazing longevity over her career, with her first global title dating back to her 100m victory at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Fourteen years later, she looks as fast and dominant as ever.

Fraser-Pryce has posted the three fastest times of the year, clocking 10.67 in Nairobi in May and at the Diamond League meeting in Paris on 18 June. She ran 10.70 in the heats of the Jamaican Championships, where she pulled up in the semifinals and skipped the final, knowing she has a wildcard into the World Championships.

Fraser-Pryce and Thompson-Herah have been edging closer to the world record of 10.49, set by Florence Griffith-Joyner in 1988. Thompson-Herah ran 10.54 at the Prefontaine Classic last year, and Fraser-Pryce set a PB of 10.60 last year in Lausanne.

“This season I am definitely looking forward to run 10.5 and possibly 10.4 because that’s the aim," Fraser-Pryce said in April. "And I think I am on my way to that. I just have to continue to trust that goal and I’ll just continue to put in work.” 

The 30-year-old Thompson-Herah, winner of back-to-back Olympic 100m and 200m titles, showed her World Championship credentials by winning the 100m at the Prefontaine Classic at Hayward Field on 28 May in her season’s best 10.79.

Elaine Thompson-Herah competes in Doha

Elaine Thompson-Herah competes in Doha (© Getty Images)

At the Jamaican Championships, without Fraser-Pryce in the final, Thompson-Herah got off to a slow start and settled for third place in 10.89 as Jackson sped to the upset win in 10.77 and Kemba Nelson grabbed second in a PB of 10.88.

Jackson, a two-time world 4x400m gold medallist, looks to be peaking at the right time. The 27-year-old has run under 11 seconds in each of her last four races, capped by her impressive performances at the national championships in Kingston, where she claimed a 100-200m double.

The Jamaicans’ main challengers will once again be the US athletes. Melissa Jefferson was the surprise winner at the US Championships, running a wind-aided 10.69 (2.9m/s) in the final. She upset pre-race favourite and former national champion Aleia Hobbs, who finished second in 10.72, with Twanisha Terry taking third in 10.74.

Jefferson’s victory came only two weeks after she had finished eighth at the NCAA Championships on the same track in 11.24. Now she faces the prospect of going head-to-head with the powerhouse Jamaican sprinters.

“I have not (run against them) and I’m glad I get the opportunity to,” Jefferson said. “I’m ready for any challenge and anything that may come my way.”


Men's 100m

Timetable | world rankings | 2022 world list | world all-time list | how it works

Many experts scoffed when Fred Kerley decided last year to drop down from the 400m to the 100m. No one is doubting him now.

The tall, powerfully-built US athlete goes into the World Athletics Championships Oregon22 as the man to beat in the 100m as he chases his first individual gold on the global stage.

Kerley had already built an impressive resume in the 400m: two-time national champion, bronze medallist at the 2009 Doha World Championships and world gold and silver medallist in the 4x400m relay.

After switching to the short sprints at the start of 2021, Kerley justified the move by winning the silver medal in the 100m at the Tokyo Olympics in 9.84.

Kerley has only improved in 2022, running sub-10 in all seven of his 100m races, culminating with stunning back-to-back performances at the US Championships at Eugene’s Hayward Field on 24 June.

In a span of two hours, Kerley ran a personal best 9.76 in the semifinals and then clocked 9.77 in the final – the world’s two fastest times this year. He also set the meeting record and the fastest ever time by a US athlete on home soil.

“I put the work in,” Kerley said. “It’s the day I was supposed to have.”

Kerley is one of only three men, along with South Africa’s Wayde van Niekerk and US runner Michael Norman, who have broken 10 seconds in the 100m, 20 seconds in the 200m and 44 seconds in the 400m. Kerley said his 400m background is paying dividends at the shorter distance.

“It’s the speed coming at the right time,” he said. “When everybody’s dying, I’m just passing.”

As for what to expect at the World Championships, he said: “You have to wait for that one. I know it’s going to be something special.”

The championships offer the prospect of something special for the home fans – a possible US sweep of the 100m medals. The US contingent includes Trayvon Bromell, Marvin Bracy and Christian Coleman.

“Anyone betting against us getting first, second and third, they’re probably crazy,” Bromell said.

Bracy ran 9.86 in the semifinals and 9.85 in the final to finish second behind Kerley at the US Championships. Bromell, the world’s fastest man in 2021, is No.2 on the world list this year behind Kerley. He clocked 9.81 in the semifinals and 9.88 in the final to finish third at the national championships.

Coleman, the reigning world champion, ran 9.87 in the semifinals at the US Championships before skipping the final by virtue of having a bye into the World Championships.

Eugene offers the opportunity of redemption of sorts for Bromell, who went in as the favourite at the Tokyo Olympics but failed to make the final after running 10.00 in the semifinals.

“I feel like I wasn’t able to put my best foot forward at the Olympics,’’ he said. “I’m motivated because of the all things I had to deal with last year, like not making the Olympic final, all the backlash. My mindset is different from last year. I’m hungry every time I step on the track.”

Bromell, who says he is capable of running 9.60, predicts big things from the US 100m sprinters at the first World Championships in the US.

“The Worlds are about to be a showstopper,” he said. “When it’s on home soil that gives us more motivation. We don’t want to lose in our own home. What you saw (at the nationals) is just icing. The whole cake is coming, I promise you that.”

The US athletes will have plenty of challengers.

The Jamaicans are led by 32-year-old Yohan Blake, the 2011 world champion who ran 9.85 to win his fifth national 100m title. He’s joined by 21-year-old Oblique Seville, who finished second in the national championships in 9.88. 

The field also includes African champion Ferdinand Omanyala of Kenya, whose season’s best 9.85 makes him the third-fastest man of the year, and South Africa’s Akani Simbine, winner at the Diamond League meeting in Stockholm in 10.02

Question marks surround reigning Olympic champion Marcell Jacobs, the Italian who stunned the track and field world last year when he stormed to the 100m gold in Tokyo.

Marcell Jacobs competes at the World Athletics Championships Doha 2019

Marcell Jacobs competes at the World Athletics Championships Doha 2019 (© Getty Images)

Jacobs started the year going unbeaten at 60m and winning gold at the World Indoor Championships in Belgrade. But his outdoor season has been cut short by injuries, forcing him to pull out of numerous events, including Diamond League meetings in Eugene, Rome, Oslo and Stockholm.

In his most recent appearance, on 26 June, Jacobs won his fifth national title, running a modest 10.12 in Rieti. Whether he will be fit to contend for a medal at the World Championships looks uncertain at best.

"I'll be in Eugene to test the waters," Jacobs posted on Instagram.  “I am the first to want to get on the top step of the podium, for me and for all of you.”

Also dealing with fitness issues is Canada’s Andre De Grasse, the reigning Olympic 200m champion and 100m bronze medallist. After being troubled by a foot injury early in the year, he ran a season’s best 10.05 to win the 100m at the Diamond League meeting in Oslo on 16 June, but then missed the Canadian Championships after contracting Covid-19.

Steve Wilson for World Athletics