Elaine Thompson is the fastest woman in the world. The Jamaican couldn’t hold back a smile as she sprinted through the finish line on Saturday night, well ahead of the women’s 100-meter field at Olympic Stadium, in a blazing 10.71 seconds. Thompson’s win gave Jamaica it’s third straight 100-meter champion.
Thompson’s race was a thing of beauty. After a burst out of the blocks, she came up to her full stride at about 30 meters ahead of the field and she never relinquished the lead. She crossed the finish line with a shocked smile as she ran toward the crowd in the stands behind the first turn.
At the halfway mark, the only drama in the race took place for whom would take the other medals.
The United States’ Tori Bowie won a silver medal (10.83) after she out-leaned two-time defending champ Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (10.86) at the finish line. After the race, Thompson and Fraser-Pryce posed for pictures wrapped in the Jamaican flag.
Despite running the fastest time in the world before the Rio Games (10.70), Thompson, 24, wasn’t the favorite heading into the starting blocks. That honor went to Dafne Schippers, who finished fifth in the final. Another sexy upset pick, America’s English Gardner, who won the event at the U.S. Olympic Trials last month, finished a disappointing 7th. But it was all academic, as Thompson ran the fastest time in the semi-finals and picked right up where she left off for the finals.
Thompson and Bowie will move on to preparation for the 200 meters, whose preliminaries take place on Monday morning. Both are expected to compete for the title alongside Schippers, who last year ran the third fastest women’s 200 ever with a time of 21.63.
The women’s 400 meter final would produce the track’s most compelling drama. Bahamian Shaunae Miller literally dove for gold at the finish line to win the event over favorite American sprinter Allyson Felix, who took silver. Just .007 seconds separated the two women, Miller winning with a time of 49.44, Felix running a 49.51.
Miller came off the third turn with the lead and led down the entire straightaway. Felix surged in the last 70 meters and, as the women became about even in the closing meters, Miller dove toward the finish line. Her torso — the part of the body that needs to cross the finish line — finished ahead of Felix’s.
The moment inspired one of the best Olympic-themed memes and has incited Twitter-debate on the fairness of the dive, whether it was a last-ditch effort for gold or actually a stumble, and the aggrieved tweets of people who believe Felix was robbed.
The consolation prize for Felix is that with the silver medal (her 7th Olympic medal) she becomes the most decorated female track and field athlete in the history of the Olympics, surpassing Jackie Joyner Kersee. In a sport that relies on fractions of seconds, fate has been cruel to Felix this season who dealt with an ankle injury that hindered training all year. Beside the .07 second loss to Miller, she missed out on being able to defend her 200 title, missing qualifying by .01 seconds.
In the 400 meter hurdles, 17-year old American prodigy Sydney McLaughlin made the semi-finals after a disappointing Olympic debut that had the high school senior holding her breath through the rest of the preliminary heats. Her teammates Dalilah Muhammad and Ashley Spencer also breezed to the semi’s. Medal favorites Ristananna Tracey (Jamaica), Sara Peterson (Denmark), and Eilidh Doyle (Great Britain) will also hit the track for today’s semi-finals.