When I look at Elaine Thompson-Herah 2021 season, I am awed at how superb a year it was for her. In some ways, this was lost in the controversy surrounding the athlete, her coach and track club (MVP).
There was a similar situation when she ran that awesome 10.54. The media coverage, both social and traditional, seemed to focus more on the performance or lack thereof, plus the interview of another athlete. Though there seems to be controversy taking away from her performances, Elaine’s 2021 is only comparable to Flo Jo’s 1988 season.
Thompson-Herah set the Olympic 100m record with 10.61, then clocked 21.53 for the 200m, the second-fastest time ever. She ran 10.54 at the 2021 Prefontaine Classic in a time that upended the belief of sceptics like me into accepting that the 10.49 world record is attainable. She ran other times of 10.64 and 10.65 in the 2021 season. This is the only time in history that a female athlete ran four sub-10.7s in a season. The great Flo Jo did it three times, including the world record in 1988. Another thing is that no one outside of Elaine Thompson-Herah has ever run more than three sub-10.7s in an entire career, yet Elaine Thompson-Herah did it four times in a few months. A friend looks at the statistics and says, “how amazing is that”?
The great season includes the fact that she won the Olympic double in consecutive Olympic Games, something no one has ever done before. The last female Olympic sprint double champion did it in 1988, and it took until 2016 (28 years) before it happened again. Elaine doing the repeat-double puts her in a category of one.
Such a performance may not be looked at for how great it is until time passes, when people have more time to reflect on the season.
What to expect for the upcoming season is anyone’s guess. Switching her training setup may not be a good idea. However, since I have no definite knowledge of what will happen, I hope for health, rejuvenation and a push to improve on the 2021 season.
Raising the standard usually follows with others raising their standard too. This most likely means competitors will develop more discipline, redoing the program, and new talents to compete. Next season may be far more competitive than 2021, but not being an Olympic year may cause some to be less motivated.
Without question, the 2021 season of Elaine Thompson-Herah is up there in the top two for female sprinters of all time. Some may say the second Olympic double plus the four sub-10.7’s put her alone at the top. However, that is debatable when one considers the double world record of 10.49 and 21.34 in one season.
Looking at her times of 10.54, 10.61, 10.64 and 10.65 plus a second Olympic sprint double, I see this season’s performance as one for the ages. When Elaine Thompson-Herah sits with family and friends and reflects on 2021, I believe one of the responses that come out of her is … wow!
Of course, this season should wow anyone that follows track & field. For me, the two memories that stand out are Elaine pointing to the clock in the 100m Olympic final and the 10.54 itself. That first 10.54, I believe, makes the 10.49 look attainable, creating excitement and expectation.
*** The views expressed in this article are those of the author (Robert Taylor) and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, trackalerts.com.