Fleeting, electrifying and always popular, the attention required for the 100 meters is not limited to a Continental Game, an Olympic Game or a World Championship. An eloquent sample is reported by the outgoing weekend, which dawned knowing the Olympic farewell date of one of its greatest active references and which later gave new signs of uncertainty on the way to Paris 2024.
In Paris 2024, precisely, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce will run her last race in a Game. “I have Paris in mind… my fifth and last trip of all time,” she warned in a brief Facebook post, leaving the door open to other appointments at the end of August 2024. She had previously been able to anticipate that Tokyo 2020 would be her “Last Dance”, but a glorious 2022 renewed her ambition and pushed for a change of plans.
The Jamaican, 37 years old at the time of competing in the French capital, where if she qualifies, will seek to close her Olympic cycle with five medals in five participations in the mother speed test, is going through a recovery process due to her low-serious hamstring injury in Budapest 2023, in which she won the bronze medal in the individual event and the silver medal in the relay, after which she finished in the hospital and did not compete again.
In the preview of the setback in the last World Championship, she had let out that she felt “fabulous” and “looking forward to the Paris Games”. If she does so and is elected standard-bearer, the eight-time Olympic medalist and owner of 15 world podiums could go down in history by carrying her country’s flag in an opening ceremony at three consecutive Games. The 100m will be held on August 3rd while the 4×100 will be held on the 8th.
On the other hand, on the Eugene track, home of the Diamond League finals, the idea that the predictions for Paris can be well reserved was accentuated. On their American soil, world champions Noah Lyles and Sha’Carri Richardson failed to win the decisive stages and the final records show five different male champions in eight stages (Lyles, Kerley, Coleman, Simbile and Omanyala) and four women’s champions in nine (Richardson, Ta Lou, Thompson-Herah and Jackson).
In the case of Lyles, who is still involved in a controversy that crossed the frontiers of athletics by arguing that winning the NBA is not synonymous with being a world champion, he finished second to two hundredths behind his compatriot and also world champion Christian Coleman, who was crowned by repeating the 9.83 seconds, the best record of the year. “It could have been a return to victory and, even if it wasn’t, people were excited,” said “Nojo” after returning to official competition after the three-time world championship in August. The only stage he won in the 100m was in Paris.
The trophy that Richardson, two-time champion in Hungary, failed to lift in Eugene was more impactful because she was left off the podium. First was Shericka Jackson with 10.70, second Marie-Josée Ta Lou (10.75, matching her best record of the season) and third was the reigning Olympic champion Elaine Thompson-Herah (10.79, the best of the season). Richardson came fourth with 10.80, 15 hundredths behind her best time.
While men’s dominance in the Diamond League was spread throughout the season (none won more than two contests), Richardson and Ivorian Ta Lou had shared all the wins until the penultimate stage. In the end, Thompson-Herah and Jackson, in addition to taking advantage of absences and expressing their validity, illuminated a landscape as open as that of Tokyo, less than 11 months before Paris.