Michelle-Lee Ahye came agonisingly close to facing the starter in an Olympic Games Women's 100 metres final for the second time in her career when she clocked 11 seconds flat in the semi-final round at the Olympic Stadium here in Tokyo, Japan, yesterday.
The Trinidad and Tobago track star missed out on a Tokyo 2020 championship race appearance by a hair's breadth.
Elaine Thompson-Herah was golden in the final, the 29-year-old Jamaican successfully defending her title in style, stopping the clock at 10.61 seconds - a new Olympic record. With that scorcher, Thompson-Herah became the second fastest woman in history. Only the late Florence Griffith-Joyner, world record holder at 10.49, has gone faster.
Thompson gave a command performance, separating herself from fellow Jamaican Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce to run away with the title. Fraser-Pryce got to the line in 10.74 seconds for silver. Shericka Jackson was next home, clocking a personal best 10.76 for a Jamaica podium sweep.
Earlier, Thompson-Herah cruised to victory in the opening semi-final, her 10.76 seconds run giving her a quarter-second cushion on Swiss sprinter Ajla Del Ponte, the runner-up at 11.01.
Ahye finished third in the second semi-final, behind Marie-Josee Ta Lou of the Ivory Coast and Jackson. Both sprinters clocked 10.79 seconds, with Ta Lou getting the nod after close examination of the photo finish.
With just two sprinters advancing automatically from each heat, Ahye had to wait till the conclusion of the third semi to know if she would advance on time. As it turned out, American Teahna Daniels, third in semifinal three, secured a lane based on her 10.98 seconds clocking. The automatic berths went to heat winner Fraser-Pryce (10.73) and Switzerland's Mujinga Kambundji (10.96).
Just one available lane remained for the final. It would go to either Ahye or Great Britain's Daryll Neita, who had clocked 11-flat in finishing fourth in the third semi.
Still on the track when the eight finalists were listed on the giant stadium screens, Neita was able to breathe a sigh of relief, her celebrations signalling an end to Ahye's hopes of improving on her sixth-place showing in the Rio 2016 final. Neita was one-thousandth of a second faster than Ahye.
In the final, Thompson-Herah ensured there would be no need for a photo finish camera to determine the winner. Given the challenges she has faced with an Achilles injury that has flared up this year, the manner of victory was surprising.
"God is amazing," Thompson-Herah declared. "Two months ago, probably a month and a half, I didn't think I would be here today. I believe in myself, I believe in God, and the team around me is very strong. I get that support.
"I didn't expect to run this fast," the back-to-back Olympic 100m champion continued, "even though I felt great during the rounds. Behind this 10.61 there were a lot of nerves. I said you can do this you've been here before. Just execute." Fraser-Pryce said she was not particularly pleased with her execution on the day.
"Definitely wasn't the race that I wanted in terms of the technical part of it," the two-time Olympic 100m gold medallist explained. "I had a stumble about my third step and I never recovered from it. But I'm happy to compete for the championship."
After press time, last night, T&T thrower Portious Warren was at the Olympic Stadium, making her championship bid in the Women's shot put final. Quarter-milers Deon Lendore, Machel Cedenio and Dwight St Hillaire competed in the opening round of the Men's 400m. And Tyra Gittens was on show in Women's long jump qualifying.
Team TTO Schedule
Monday, 7.05 a.m.
Deon Lendore, Machel Cedenio, Dwight St Hillaire, Athletics, Men's 400m, Semi-finals (dependent on qualification)
Monday, 9.50 p.m.
Tyra Gittens, Athletics, Women's Long Jump, Final (dependent on qualification)
Monday, 10.05 p.m.
Jereem Richards, Kyle Greaux, Athletics, Men's 200m, Round 1
Tuesday, 7.50 a.m.
Jereem Richards, Kyle Greaux, Athletics, Men's 200m, Semi-finals (dependent on qualification)
Tuesday, 8.05 p.m.
Keshorn Walcott, Athletics, Men's Javelin, Qualification