Jamaica’s Elaine Thompson-Herah, left, wins the 100 meters, as American track and field sprinter Sha’carri Richardson, second from left, also competes, Aug. 21, 2021, at the Prefontaine Classic track and field meet in Eugene, Ore. Richardson finished in last place. (AP Photo/Thomas Boyd)
By Anne M. Peterson
AP Sports Writer
Jamaican Elaine Thompson-Herah bested her Olympic gold-medal winning time in the 100 meters at the Prefontaine Classic, and Sha’Carri Richardson finished last in her return to the track after controversy.
Thompson-Herah ran the 100 meters Aug. 21 in 10.54 seconds, the best time in the world this year as well as a meet record and a personal best. She topped her Olympic-record 10.61 in Tokyo as she edged closer to Florence Griffith Joyner’s world record of 10.49 set in 1988.
Fellow Jamaicans Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Sherika Jackson followed Thompson to the finish line, the same 1-2-3 finish as the Olympics.
“I’m a little bit surprised because I’ve not run that fast in five years and I actually ran fast at the championships. But to come back here after two weeks to run another personal best is a really amazing,” Thompson-Herah said.
The Diamond League race at Hayward Field was heralded as Richardson’s return to the sport after a positive marijuana test, as well as a showdown against the Jamaicans that many had hoped to see in Japan.
“Actually, just to be back doing what it is that I have a passion for, that’s in my heart, that navigates me day-to-day, was a blessing,” Richardson said afterward, vowing that better finishes are to come.
Richardson won the 100 on the same track at the U.S. Olympic track and field trials in June, becoming a sensation with her long, colorful nails and big personality. But her title was stripped after she tested positive for marijuana shortly after the race.
She was handed a 30-day suspension that kept her out of the event in Tokyo and was later left off the U.S. team as part of the relay pool, although her suspension would’ve been completed by the time of the 4×100 race.
“This last month was a journey for me, but that’s no excuse, because at the end of the day I’m an athlete. Today was a day, but it’s not every day. It’s not the end of the world,” Richardson said. “And like I say, if you count me out, jokes on you.”
Richardson opted not to double in the 200, which was won by Mujinga Kambundji. Allyson Felix, who became the United States’ most decorated Olympian this summer in Japan, finished at the back of the field but was treated to a warm reception by the crowd.
“That’s really the reason that I came, just to say thank you and gratitude,” Felix said. “There was so much love leading up to the trials, and it was so intense, and to come back off that here, I just wanted to show my appreciation.”
The star-studded field for the event included 47 medalists from the Tokyo Games.
Canadian Marco Arop won the 800 in 1:44.51, besting Olympic gold medalist Emmanuel Korir of Kenya, who finished third, and silver medalist Ferguson Rotich, who was runner-up. On the women’s side, Olympic gold medalist Athing Mu won at 800 in 1:55.04, a new American record.
“I knew this was going to probably be a little a little tougher just because I came off the Olympic Games and running a (personal record) there, so I wasn’t really looking at time,” Mu said. “I just wanted to come out here, run with whoever was out there and just be competitive as usual. Very satisfied with the 1:55.04. To PR again this season, that’s pretty great.”
Canadian Andre De Grasse won the 100 with a wind-aided 9.74 in a field that included second-place Tokyo finisher Fred Kerley, and 39-year-old Justin Gatlin.
Olympic bronze medalist Noah Lyles won the 200 in 19.52, also a meet record and a world best this year.
Kenyan Norah Jeruto won the steeplechase in 8:53.65, another meet record and a world best this year, while second-place finisher Courtney Frerichs finished in 8:57.77 to set an American record.
Kenya’s Faith Kipyegon won the 1,500 in 3:53.23.
Ryan Crouser the gold medalist in the shot put who set a world record in the event at the trials, won the event at the Pre with a meet-record mark of 23.15 meters (75 feet, 11 1/2 inches). Pedro Pechardo of Portugal won the triple jump.
In the women’s field events, American Katie Nageotte won the pole vault and Iryna Gerashchenko of the Ukraine took the high jump.
The Prefontaine Classic, named after renowned Oregon runner Steve Prefontaine, is the eighth stop on the Diamond League schedule and the only U.S.-based meet. This year’s star-studded event will serve as a preview for next year’s World Championships scheduled at Hayward Field.
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