Elaine Thompson wouldn’t let history repeat itself down the final stretch of the 200 meter dash. In the 2015 World Championships, the Jamaican led off the turn only to be caught by Netherlands Dafne Schippers; On the track in Rio de Janeiro, Thompson must’ve felt Schippers’ surge. She was able to fend off her rival, winning her second sprinting gold of the Rio Olympics with a time of 21.78 seconds.
Thompson became the first woman to pull of the 100-200 double since Florence Griffith Joyner did so in 1988, and displayed a shocked smile when she realized she beat the field. Silver medalist Schippers was visibly angry after the loss. American Tori Bowie, who won silver in the dash, finished in third for the bronze.
Thanks to iconoclastic Olympic memories like Michael Johnson in Atlanta and Usain Bolt in, well, anywhere he runs, the 200-meter-dash has become marquee sprinting event after the 100-meter dash. The 100-meter gets to call it’s winner “the fastest man/woman in the world,” but the 200 gets to call itself the better race to watch.
The Jamaican sprinters have now won three of the last four Olympic 200-meter races and the last three 100-meter events; With the exception of Schippers, every medal awarded in either event since 2008 has gone to a Jamaican or American sprinter. Both teams now look forward to the 4×100 relay, where something drastic would have to happen to not have the final Olympic sprinting medal come down to these two countries.
In the 100-meter hurdles, the American women reign supreme. For the first time in Olympic history, the United States women swept an event. Brianna Rollins, Nia Ali, and Kristi Castlin outclassed the field, going gold, silver, bronze, respectively.
It shouldn’t have surprised anyone, to be clear. The Americans owned the top 25 times in the world this season. How deep is the American hurdle pool? The top female hurdler in the world, Kendra Harrison, who owns the world record in the event, couldn’t even crack top three at the U.S. Olympic Trials.
Rollins smoked the field out of the blocks and led the entire way. A foregone conclusion in a time of 12.48; Ali followed her across the line in 12.59; Castlin (12.61) outleaned Great Britain’s Cindy Ofili (12.63) at the finish line. The three Americans wrapped their arms around each other as the awaited official word from the stadium’s scoreboard.
Historically, the U.S women have been the best, but a series of mishaps has prevented them of late to climb atop the medal stand. But after the men’s team failed to medal in the event, this year’s crop of women’s hurdlers weren’t going to let a shutout happen again.
Continuing with an Olympic season of firsts, the United States also claimed the top spot in the 400 hurdles. Dalilah Muhammad won the race with a time of 53.13 seconds.
Muhammad jumped out of the blocks and set the pace early, leading from the first hurdle through the finish line. The New York City native and former USC All-American has made a dazzling progression in the past year. She finished 11th at the U.S. Championships last year. Now, she’s the Olympic champion.
Denmark’s Sara Peterson finished well after Muhammad in 53.55 for the silver medal; American teammate Ashley Spencer crossed the finish line in 53.72 for the bronze, giving the United States it’s fifth hurdling medal in Rio.