Tokyo Olympics: Fraser-Pryce dazzles but Ta Lou sets the standard in stunning women’s sprint heats
The 32-year-old from Ivory Coast posted a personal best of 10.78 seconds, the joint fourth quickest legal 100m ever seen at the Games, excluding those that have exceeded wind assistance limits or been wiped from the record books because of doping.
Two-time World Championship silver medallist Ta Lou delivered her standout display in the fourth heat and said: “Surprise, surprise. I’m in shock actually. I know I’m ready. I will be re-focusing on my run because I really didn’t expect to run as fast as I just did. And 10.78, it’s great.”
Asked whether advancing spike technology had helped, Ta Lou said: “No, I don’t think so because I feel the same way when I wear other shoes. This one was not making me run really fast. It’s only the colours.”
She was joined in producing an early statement of intent by Jamaicans Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Elaine Thompson-Herah – the defending champion – with the women’s 100m shaping up to be more tantalising a race than the men’s equivalent.
Fraser-Pryce is the fastest woman in the world this year, having run a 10.63 in June – the quickest legal 100m since Florence Griffith-Joyner’s still-startling 1988 hot streak.
The 34-year-old ran 10.84 to win heat five, and when asked if there was rivalry in the Jamaican ranks she said: “Oh, there’s rivalry with everybody. All female athletes are showing up and you’re competing so I don’t focus on just one individual.
“If you notice the heat, that’s some really quick running, so you just have to make sure that you’re ready. And I think it’s good for females sprinting. It’s long overdue and I’m hoping that it definitely is up to the expectation.”
Thompson-Herah did the 100m and 200m sprint double in Rio five years ago and is chasing more gold medal success in Japan, with her first outing showing she is in great shape to contend, the 28-year-old closing 10.82 in the second heat.
“These are some of the quickest fields in the history of the event,” she said.
Britain’s Dina Asher-Smith was a comfortable second in the first heat, clocking 11.07 as Teahna Daniels crossed first in 11.04, and was asked whether this might be a fast track.
“I think so, but I really wasn’t thinking about things like that. It might be,” Asher-Smith said. “But today was just about making it through to the next round safely at the same time as knowing I’ve got another level to give tomorrow. And I do have another level, of course I do. It’s an Olympics.”
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