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Thompson-Herah, Fraser-Pryce eye Olympic gold after cruising into semis
Elaine Thompson-Herah, of Jamaica, prepares for her heat of the women's 100-meters at the 2020 Summer Olympics, yesterday in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader) - Matthias Schrader

Thompson-Herah, Fraser-Pryce eye Olympic gold after cruising into semis

Go Back : Guardian : Sports Desk : 31.07.2021

TOKYO, Japan - Superstar sprinters Elaine Thompson-Herah and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce stormed into Saturday's women's 100 metres semi-finals while Dominica's emerging triple jump star Thea Lafond also shone, to be the Caribbean standouts on the first day of track and field competition at the Summer Olympic Games.

Jamaicans Thompson-Herah and Fraser-Pryce, winners of the last three Olympic 100 metres finals, cruised to impressive times in their respective heats on Friday, while LaFond jumped a lifetime best, to stride into the triple jump final.

Thompson-Herah, the reigning Olympic champion, clocked 10.82 seconds to cross the line first in heat two, with Switzerland's Mujinga Kambundji (10.95) also dipping below the 11-second barrier to be second.

Germany's Tatjana Pinto finished third in 11.16 to also book her place in the next round.

Fraser-Pryce, the reigning World champion, stopped the clock at 10.84 seconds, to win heat five, ahead of Swiss Ajla Del Ponte who posted a national record 10.91 second and 20-year-old Nigerian Nzubechi Grace Nwokocha who was third in a personal best 11 seconds flat.

T&T's Michelle-Lee Ahye, the 2018 Commonwealth champion, clocked 11.06 to win heat seven, beating Jamaican Shericka Jackson into second in 11.07 while American Jenna Prandini finished third in a season-best 11.11, to also clinch a semi-final spot.

Bahamian Tynia Gaither, the 2019 World Championships 200m finalist, also advanced to the semi-final after finishing third in heat six in 11.34, as Nigerian Blessing Okagbare clocked a winning time of 11.05.

Fastest in the heats was Marie Josee Talou of C™te d'Ivoire who set an African record of 10.78 seconds.

The 27-year-old Lafond, meanwhile, who was eliminated in the 2016 Olympic qualifying round, set a new national record of 14.60 metres to post the third best jump overall, in a round headed by Venezuela's two-time World Champion Yulimar Rojas at 14.77 metres.

Lafond will be joined in Sunday's final by the Jamaican pair of Shanieka Ricketts, the 2019 World Championship runner-up, and Kimberly Williams, both of whom qualified easily.

Jamaicans Natoya Goule and Jaheel Hyde also won their first round races in the women's 800 and men's 400 metre hurdles respectively, while 2018 Commonwealth Games champion Kyron McMaster of the British Virgin Islands, also advanced in the hurdles event.

Hyde reached the semi-finals by winning heat two in 48.54, before McMaster secured his spot in the next round by capturing heat four in 48.79.

In the throws, Porteus Warren of Trinidad and Tobago and Chad Wright of Jamaica rose to the occasion. Warren produced her best throw ever - 18.75 metres - to take a spot in the shot put final and Wright spun his discus 62.91 metres to take the last slot in the men's discus final.

Day one of the track and field programme was not all joy for the Caribbean, however.

Wright edged his teammate and 2019 World discus silver medallist Fedrick Dacres out of the medal round by two centimetres while 2007 World high jump gold champion, Donald Thomas, and his Bahamian teammate Jamal Wilson, went out early as did Cuban talent Luis Zayas, the 2016 World Under-20 and 2019 Pan-American Games champion.

In addition, there were early exits for 2011 World 100 metre bronze medallist Kelly-Ann Baptiste of Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica's top female shot putter Danniel Thomas-Dodd.

Baptiste was sixth in heat two in 11.48 seconds and joined several other Caribbean runners missing out in the 100m.

Antiguan Joella Lloyd was seventh in heat one in 11.54, Barbadian Tristan Evelyn was sixth in heat three in 11.42, St Kitts and Nevis' Amya Clarke placed seventh in heat four in 11.71 while Guyana's Jasmine Abrams trailed in seventh in heat seven in 11.49.

Day two will present several chances for the region to add to the gold won by Bermuda's Flora Duffy in the triathlon earlier in the week.

Thompson-Herah, Fraser-Pryce and Ahye, who were all 100 metre finalists at the 2016 Olympics; along with Jackson and Gaither, will hope to be in the 100 metres final set for 9:50 pm on Saturday (8.50 am, Eastern Caribbean time).

Should the 34 year-old Fraser-Pryce win, she will become the first woman to capture gold in the event three times.

In the semi-finals set to begin at 7:15 pm (6:15 am, Eastern Caribbean time), Thompson-Herah will clash with Gaither and Okagbare in semi-final one, Jackson and Ahye will lock horns with Ta Lou in semi-final two while Fraser-Pryce headlines semi-final three.

Wright, meanwhile, will contest the men's discus final and the sole Caribbean entrants, Jamaica, will race in the mixed 4_400 metre relay final after setting a national record of three minutes 11.76 seconds in the first round.

(CMC)

Thompson-Herah, Fraser-Pryce eye Olympic gold after cruising into semis
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, of Jamaica, wins a heat in the women's 100-meter run at the 2020 Summer Olympics, yesterday in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)