World and Olympic champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce began her history-making quest to become the first woman to win three consecutive Olympic 100m titles in convincing fashion. The sprinter known as the ‘Pocket Rocket’ running in heat four reacted reasonably well to the starter’s pistol and quickly took command of the race at the Games of the XXXI Olympiad, Rio 2016, on Friday (August 12).
She coasted through the contest and maintained a steady rhythm until easing down the last few metres. Fraser-Pryce, who clearly sent out a message of intent, stopped the clock in a season’s best 10.96 (-0.3 m/s). Ivorian sprinter Marie-Josee Ta Lou had to settle for the runner-up spot in 11.01 seconds.
Bahamian sprinter Tynia Gaither who was in the same heat failed to advance to the next round after placing fifth with a time of 11.56 seconds.
Fraser-Pryce’s training partner and world leader Elaine Thompson was not as impressive. Any doubts surrounding the fitness of the 2015 World Championships 200m silver medallist coming into the games may have lingered a while longer. The Jamaican 100m champion was running her first race since receiving a medical exemption at the country’s national senior championships.
Thompson like Fraser-Pryce also got off to a flying start from lane eight; however, instead of showing her competitors a clean pair of heels, she saved that demonstration for another time by shutting it down a bit early. Nevertheless, she claimed victory in 11.21 seconds.
Christania Williams, the newest and youngest member of the Jamaican sprint entrants, also advanced to the next round. She registered 11.27 to claim the second automatic qualifying spot in heat six.
Trinidad & Tobago saw two of their three representatives advancing as well. Michelle Lee-Ahye, who has been consistent throughout the season, showed that she is in top form with an authoritative run. Her winning time of 11.00 seconds was the second fastest heat of the evening. Semoy Hackett squeezed into the semi-finals with a third place finish in her heat in 11.35 seconds.
However, the 2011 world championships bronze medallist, Kelly-Ann Baptiste made a shocking exit. She was fourth in her heat in 11.42 seconds.
Other Caribbean sprinters who featured in the heats but failed to advance include Guyana’s Brenessa Thompson (11.72) and British Virgin Island’s Tahesia Harrigan-Scott (11.54).
Meanwhile, Americans English Gardner, 11.09, Tori Bowie, 11.13, and Tianna Bartoletta, 11.23, along with Netherland’s Dafne Schippers, 11.16 and Blessing Okagbare of Nigeria, 11.16, are also through to the semi-finals.