Jasmine Camacho-Quinn wins the 100m hurdles at the Olympic Games (© Getty Images)
Before these Games, Jasmine Camacho-Quinn’s abiding Olympic memory was of being crouched on the track in tears after crashing out of the semifinals in Rio five years ago.
On Monday (2), however, that soon became a distant memory as the 24-year-old cruised to victory in the 100m hurdles in Tokyo, stopping the clock at 12.37 to secure Puerto Rico’s first Olympic gold medal in athletics.
There was redemption, too, for silver medallist Kendra Harrison, who missed out on making the US Olympic team back in 2016 in what was an otherwise undefeated season. The world record-holder clocked 12.52 to finish just ahead of Jamaica’s Megan Tapper, who took bronze from the outside lane in 12.55.
Camacho-Quinn had impressed in the earlier rounds, winning her heat in 12.41 and her semifinal in 12.26, breaking the Olympic record. Harrison, the world indoor champion, wasn’t quite as fast but still made it to the final with relative ease following a 12.74 heat and 12.51 run in the semifinal.
Aside from one DQ for Camacho-Quinn and one DNF for Harrison earlier in the season, both women arrived in Tokyo undefeated this year, setting the scene for a mouth-watering showdown in the final.
Harrison got the slightly better start and was ahead at the first barrier, but Camacho-Quinn soon got into her rhythm and started to edge ahead of the world silver medallist. Nigeria’s Tobi Amusan and Jamaica’s Britany Anderson, both of whom had impressed throughout the rounds, were slightly off the pace being set by the lead duo.
Out in lane nine, Tapper was having the race of her life and seemed level with Harrison for most of the way. Camacho-Quinn, meanwhile, was away and clear, but she clipped the ninth barrier and for the briefest of moments it appeared as though history may repeat itself.
It would take more than that to quell Camacho-Quinn’s determination, though. She safely negotiated the final hurdle before crossing the line in 12.37 (-0.3m/s), the second-fastest title-winning time in Olympic history.
Her winning margin of 0.15 was comfortable, but there was still a brief moment of disbelief from Camacho-Quinn as she crossed the line, looking around and asking: “Me? Me?!” It wasn’t long before her victory was confirmed on the scoreboard, though it took a little longer to determine the silver and bronze medallists. Both Harrison and Tapper were delighted with the outcome nevertheless.
Replicating her finish from the 2019 World Championships, Amusan placed fourth, clocking 12.60. Nadine Visser was fifth 12.73, 0.01 ahead of Devynne Charlton of The Bahamas. USA's Gabriele Cunningham (13.01) and Anderson (13.24) rounded out the rest of the finishers.
“Everything happens for a reason and I came through with the gold,” said an emotional Camacho-Quinn. “My first gold medal!
“Puerto Rico is such a small country but this will give little kids hope, and I’m glad I’m the person who does that.
“This year had its ups and downs. My coach came all the way from Ireland to coach me, so I really do appreciate that. It’s been a rollercoaster since I became professional.
“Anything is possible and everybody here has been training hard for this moment. Honestly, I think all of us should be awarded for this. It’s been a very hard year, but I’m really thankful.”
Jon Mulkeen for World Athletics
|WOMEN'S 100m HURDLES MEDALLISTS|
|🥇||Jasmine Camacho-Quinn 🇵🇷 PUR||12.37|
|🥈||Kendra Harrison 🇺🇸 USA||12.52|
|🥉||Megan Tapper 🇯🇲 JAM||12.55|