Elaine Thompson wins the 100m at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games (© Getty Images)
Elaine Thompson ended the eight-year Olympic reign of her training partner and compatriot Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce in a thrilling final as the Jamaican secured gold in a stunning 10.71, the second-fastest winning time in the history of the women’s Olympic 100m final.
In a demonstration of her recently discovered world-class ability, the 24-year-old, who like Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce is coached by sprint guru Stephen Francis, stalked the two-time former Olympic 100m champion before unleashing her decisive strike for gold over the second half of the race,
The fast-finishing US sprinter Tori Bowie accelerated past the fading Fraser-Pryce in the latter stages of the race to take silver in 10.83, with Fraser-Pryce having to settle for bronze in 10.86.
Yet on this day Thompson, who earlier this year moved into joint fourth place – coincidentally alongside Fraser-Pryce - on the 100m all-time list after recording 10.70 in Kingston, was just too good.
"When I crossed the line and glanced across to see I was clear I didn't quite know how to celebrate,” reflected Thompson.
"There is a big screen back home in my community in Jamaica. I can't imagine what is happening there right now."
A magnanimous Fraser-Pryce said: "What I'm most happy about is that the 100m title is staying in Jamaica. I'm on the podium with my training partner. I'm proud of Jamaica - just look at my hair (which was coloured the green and gold of the Jamaican flag).”
The eight finalists were introduced to the crowd one by one via the tunnel leading into the stadium to the accompaniment of loud rock music.
The move added a gladiatorial feel to the race to discover the world’s fastest woman and while Fraser-Pryce, who has been cursed by a nagging toe injury this year, looked a little anxious, by comparison, Thompson appeared relaxed and smiled freely to the crowd.
With Fraser-Pryce in lane six and Thompson in lane four, the training partners were separated by Bowie.
As the gun went, although Fraser-Pryce got away to a reasonable start but crucially she never opened a gap of any significance on Thompson or the quick starting Ivorian, Marie-Josee Ta Lou.
Thompson takes control at halfway
By halfway, it was Thompson, who was raised in the Jamaican town of Manchester by her grandmother from the age of seven, who emerged to the fore and started to dictate terms.
In the blink of an eye the gap had grown and for the remainder of the race she extended her advantage to gallop home in a winning time only ever previously surpassed in an Olympic women’s 100m final by Florence Griffith-Joyner 28 years ago.
Bowie finished with a late charge to take silver with Fraser-Pryce earning bronze from Ta Lou in a photo-finish by 0.007, 10.852 to 10.859.
Ta Lou had to settle for fourth but successive lifetime bests in both her semi-final (10.94) and then the final should fill the 27-year-old with huge confidence.
European champion Dafne Schippers was drawn on the outside lane eight and never in the medal picture.
The 2015 world championships 100m silver medallist ran solidly to record 10.90, but will now have to turn her attention to her speciality event, the 200m.
Michelle-Lee Ahye followed up her fifth place in last year’s world final with a sixth place spot in Rio, the Trinidadian recording a solid 10.92, while 0.02 further back was a disappointing US champion English Gardner.
The quality of the race was also emphasised by the fact the race produced more women under 11 seconds than in any previous Olympic 100m final with seven, the previous best high water mark having been six in London four years ago.
Steve Landells for the IAAF