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Elaine Thompson-Herah Is Officially the Fastest Woman Alive With Record-Breaking Olympic Win

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Jamaica’s Elaine Thompson-Herah won gold in the 100-meter dash at the Tokyo Games on Saturday morning, crossing the finish line in just 10.61 seconds and breaking a 33-year-old Olympic record for the race. 

It was a podium sweep for Jamaica, with fellow teammates Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce winning silver with a time of 10.74 and Shericka Jackson taking home bronze with a time of 10.76. The last time Jamaica took home all three medals in this event was in 2008, according to AP News. Teahna Daniels placed highest for Team USA, coming in seventh.

With her performance, Thompson-Herah is now the fastest woman ever to run the 100 meters in the Olympic Games. Previously, American track legend Florence Griffith Joyner—better known as Flo-Jo—held the Olympic record with a time of 10.62, which she set at the Seoul Games in 1988. 

It also makes Thompson-Herah officially the fastest woman alive to run the 100 meters and second on the all-time list. The current world record, 10.49, is held by Flo-Jo, who passed away in 1998. (According to World Athletics, Flo-Jo also still holds the world record for the 200-meter dash, also set at the Seoul Games.)

Both Thompson-Herah and Fraser-Price have dominated the 100-meter event since 2008. Fraser-Pryce won back-to-back gold medals in the 100 meters at the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games; Thompson-Herah took home gold for the event in the 2016 Games in Rio, according to the New York Times.

This is the marquee event that Sha’Carri Richardson was expected to race—and had the potential to bring home an Olympic medal in it. The 24-year-old became the fastest woman in America after winning the 100-meter dash in a time of 10.86 seconds at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene, Oregon, in June. People even compared her to Flo-Jo. Then, in early July, news broke that Richardson had failed a drug test for testing positive for marijuana. Her win in the Trials was disqualified, and the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) announced on July 2 that she accepted a 30-day suspension for an anti-doping violation for a “substance of abuse,” or a substance not used for performance benefits.

While Richardson’s ban technically would end in time for her to race the 100-meter relay in Tokyo—which is held after the 100-meter individual event—USA Track and Field did not name her to the team. Richardson’s ban sparked debates among running fans and professional athletes about whether THC even belongs on the banned list in the first place, and if Black female athletes are held to unfair standards.

According to the New York Times, the 100-meter final on Saturday was missing another notable athlete, in addition to Richardson, also as a result of a failed drug test: Blessing Okagbare of Nigeria was suspended on Saturday for testing positive for human growth hormone in an out-of-competition test on July 19.

Thompson-Herah started celebrating her win before she even crossed the finish line on Saturday, pointing at the scoreboard with an absolutely ecstatic look on her face. 

“I think I could have gone faster if I wasn’t pointing and celebrating, really,” she told ESPN. “But to show you that there’s more in store. Hopefully one day I can unleash that time.”

After the finished, she fell to the ground, seemingly taking a moment to catch her breath and let the reality of her history-making win sink in.

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