News17 Aug 2008

Women's 100m - FINAL


Shelly-Ann Fraser wins the 100m by more than two metres to lead a Jamaican medal sweep with Sherone Simpson and Kerron Stewart sharing the silver (© Getty Images)

For the second night in succession the Bird's Nest Stadium was treated 'to reggae power' as Jamaica once again demonstrated their mindblowing hotbed of sprinting talent.

The Caribbean island of just under 2.8 million people, surpassed the achievements of Usain Bolt in the men's 100m as the unknown Shelly-Ann Fraser blasted to a PB of 10.78 to lead home the first clean sweep of the medals in a women's 100m at a global championships.

Behind Fraser, though, Jamaica did not bag silver and bronze, it was better than that! It was two silvers as Sherone Simpson and Kerron Stewart could not be separated to the thousandth of a second, both recording 10.98 - to share the medal.

Fraser, who was the fastest of the qualifiers from the semi-finals, provided one of the great shocks in the long history of the event and has improved by a staggering 0.53 this season.

It was also redemption of sorts for Fraser's coach, Stephen Francis. Last night Francis' protege, Asafa Powell, once again disappointed in a major championship final, finishing fifth in the men's 100m final.

Stewart was many pundits tip for gold after clocking 10.80 to win the Jamaican Championships but it was her less experienced team-mate who was to grab the ultimate prize.

US athlete Torri Edwards appeared to twitch at the start, however, the starter chose not to recall them, a fact Stewart will probably regret after she made a poor start in lane seven.

By comparison Fraser got out like a bullet - just like in the semi-final - and  by 30m she held a clear advantage.

Simpson running in lane two was Fraser's nearest pursuer while the US duo - Lauryn Williams and Muna Lee - appeared to be in the race for bronze.

Yet if the more experienced rivals thought Fraser would crack, they were sadly mistaken. The diminutive sprinter simply stretched, and stretched, her advantage and crossed the line in a new lifetime best of 10.78.

Stewart found her familar rhythm in the latter stages, surging past the US challenge in the final strides.

As Stewart and Simpson dipped for the line it looked close for silver and bronze, although, we did not think it was quite that close! After what seemed an age it was confirmed the pair had tied the silver medal.

The US challenge withered - just like it had the previous night in the men's 100m. Williams took fourth in 11.03 with Lee a place behind in 11.07.

The third American, Edwards, maybe distracted by her own movement at the start finished plum last in 11.20.

There was pride for Great Britain's Jeanette Kwakye, who set a PB of 11.14 for sixth in the final. Meanwhile Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie, of the Bahamas, finished seventh in 11.19 in her third successive Olympic 100m final.

An elated Fraser admitted the world record breaking performance of her compatriot the previous night had acted as inspiration for her gold medal winning run.

"This is the crazy Bolt effect," she admitted. "Last night it was amazing, it was crazy. I wanted to come out and do the same thing."

Stewart, who shared the silver medal, admitted she thought a false start was committed and was waiting for the recall. "I don't know whether I should cry, smile, jump, I don't know," she admitted. "I think this is a fabulous thing for the three of us to win the medals and for Jamaica to get one, two, three."

It was the first sweep of the medals in an Olympic 100m final since the USA completed the one-two-three in the men's race at the 1912 Games in Stockholm.

Few could have predicted the Fraser fairytale. Raised in a tough community in Waterhouse, St Andrew she had little quality pedigree ahead of this season.

In 2005 she finished third in the Jamaican Junior Championships and the following year recorded a personal best of 11.74. Last season she advanced to 11.31 and ran in the 4x100m heats of the World Championships in Osaka, winning a silver medal. 

She ran a PB of 11.28 in Belem, Brazil in May and after then hacking a huge chunk of her best with 11.02 in the heats of the Jamaican Championships she ran 10.85 for second in the final to qualify for Beijing.

She performed admirably on the European circuit, running 10.95 for second in London but few would have predicted such an upset, especially on her individual major championship debut.   

Steve Landells for the IAAF    



Pages related to this article