Many felt that the Olympics currently underway in Tokyo would have lack excitement and passion due to the absence of spectators. Some felt that the games should have been canceled due to the pandemic and the risk to all involved.
Nonetheless, the athletes in the games have shown the mental fortitude to deliver world-class performances in deafening silence.
Below are the 5 most dramatic races from track and field in the Olympics thus far.
5. 200-meter women final
The favorite in this race was Elaine Thompson-Herah because she was the reigning 200-meter Olympic champion and appeared in supreme form after running a blistering 21.66 seconds in the semifinal. Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, her Jamaican compatriot appeared her closest challenger after winning the semifinal and easing down at 22.13 seconds. Of course, Gabby Thomas was a force to be reckoned with because in the US trials she ran 21.66 seconds which was the second-fastest time run in history. The field also contained Ivory Coast’s Marie Josee Ta-Lou, Bahamas sprinter Miller-Uebo, and the Swiss Mujinga Kambundji. The field was complete with the Nambian pair of Christine Mboma and Beatrice Masilingi.
As the race unfolded Thompson-Herah and Fraser-Pryce had tremendous starts out of the blocks and by the home stretch Elaine was just in front at the 150 meters mark. Then, Thompson-Herah widened her gap with her brilliant top-end speed with Shelly-Ann finding it difficult to keep pace. Two athletes approached Shelly-Ann from her left and to her right to challenge her silver medal place. Elaine powered to the finish line in 21.53 with Mboma the athlete finishing past Shelly-Ann for silver and Gabby Thomas grabbing the bronze. According to worldathletics.org stats, this was a phenomenal run by Elaine because it was a personal best, national record, and the 2nd fastest time a woman ran in history. It was a stunning running run to witness because it was Thompson-Herah’s 6th race in just 4 days.
4. 100-meter men
Unlike 200-meter women, there were no clear favorites for the event. The event lacked the star power that was brought by the presence of Usain Bolt but there was still intrigue because the race was wide-open with no clear favorite. The final started with a nerve-wracking false start by Zharnel Hughes of Great Britain who was disqualified for the violation leaving 7 runners in the field. Lamont Jacobs of Italy started the race brilliantly and surged ahead of the field. Fred Kerley of the United States tried to stay attached to Jacobs, but the ripped Italian would not be denied and won in a decent time of 9.80 seconds. Canada’s Andre de Grasse finished third to add to his two bronze from Rio 2016. Yes, after winning the Euro 2021 football champions, the Italians were once again celebrating an unlikely victory.
3. 400-meter hurdles women
The 400-meter hurdles for women was built as a battle between the impressive American pair of Sydney Mclaughlin and Dalilah Muhammad. Muhammed was the reigning Olympic and World champion, but McLaughlin was the world record-holder at 51.90 seconds. The race began with Muhammed running from lane 7 starting fast for the first 200 meters to have a big lead for the home stretch. However, it proved not to be big enough because after clearing the final hurdle Sydney made her move using her superior flat track speed to nip past Muhammed for a thrilling victory. According to stats from worldathletics.org, It was a fantastic race because Sydney broke her world record in the process by running 51.46 while Muhammed time silver medal run broke the previous world record by running 51.58.
2. 100-meter women
In the preview to the Olympics, this race was billed as the most anticipated race of the Olympics because it pitted the Jamaican pair of Elaine Thompson-Herah, the reigning 100-meter champion, and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce who won the event in the 2008 and 2012. Another surprise from Jamaica was Shericka Jackson who dropped the 400m this season and took up the short sprints to challenge her compatriots at the national trials.
In the finals, Shelly-Ann executed her plans to get out of the box quickly but what would have surprised her was that Elaine had minimized her initial advantage by also having a good start. Therefore, the long-striding Thompson-Herah swooped past Shelly-Ann at 50 meters and dominated the field by pointing to the clock as she hit the finish line. She had every right to point to the clock because she had just achieved the Olympic record of 10.61 and the second-fastest time in history behind Florence Griffith’s 10.49 seconds. The shock of this race was the ability of Jackson to hold off Talou to make the race end 1,2,3 for Jamaica.
- 400-meter hurdles men
Like the 400-meter hurdles for women, the result would be determined by the two best in the world in Karsten Warholm of Norway and Rai Benjamin of the United States. The race started impressively with Warholm like Muhammed trying to set the pace in the outer lane. As they hit the home stretch, Benjamin drew almost to a dead heat with Warholm. However, Warholm found another gear to inch away from Benjamin who did his mighty best to sneak past the Norweigian at the tape but just failed to execute his plan in the end. Warholm overcame the challenge to win in a world record time of 45.94 seconds. It was an epic race, and we can expect more from these two since they are only just 25 and 24 years old respectively.
Yes, these games have been thrilling to watch from home despite no atmosphere in the stadium and all credit should go to the athletes to deliver under such trying circumstances.
Readers Bureau, Contributor
Edited by Jesus Chan
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