The United States gets their first gold in track and field, and then gets their second.
Women’s 100m Hurdles
With the top three runners in this race, the United States seemed to have a strong chance of sweeping the podium, even without the services of the the World Record holder on their side. Brianna Rollins has spent the rounds of the Olympics doing her best Kendra Harrison impersonation and looked the part of a clear favorite.
The race got off that way, with Rollins emerging quickly as the woman to beat. Nia Ali, by the seventh hurdle or so, had all but locked up silver.
That left only Kristi Castlin to cement the U.S. sweep in the event. She sat in fifth or so coming off the eight hurdle, before surging even with Cindies Ofili and Roleder. On a lean with the former Cindy, Castlin won the bronze medal to give the United States a sweep.
The sweep is the first time U.S. women have swept an Olympic podium in athletics. U.S. men have done it before, most recently in both the 400m and 400m hurdles at the 2008 games in Beijing.
Women’s 200m Final
Entering this race, you could have convinced me to put money on any of Elaine Thompson, Dafne Schippers, or Tori Bowie to win this race. Thompson dominated the 100m; Schippers has dominated this event all season; Bowie showed the sort of closing speed throughout the 100m that would figure to translate well to the 200m.
And, what do you know, those were the three medalists in the race. Thompson needed a season-best of 21.78 to hold off Schippers’ season best of 21.88. The progression was about how you would expect: Thompson got off the blocks much better than Schippers, while Schippers made it a bit interesting in the final straight.
Similarly, Tori Bowie got a terrible start and looked to be in danger of not medalling until a push in the final 50m to pull away from a group of three women.
With a double-gold in the 100m and 200m, Elaine Thompson will go for the Bolt Triple in the 4x100m on Friday.
Elaine Thompson of Jamaica pulls off the 100-200 golden double. First time that’s happened since FloJo in 1988. #Rio2016— Chris Chavez (@ChrisChavezSI) August 18, 2016
Men’s 200m Semifinals
Two big news items here that we’ll focus exclusively on.
- Justin Gatlin will not advance after placing third in the final heat in a time of 20.13. He appeared to have a solid hold on the second automatic qualifying position with a couple meters to go, but began looking around to get a sense of where everyone else was and lost his placing to Alonso Edward and Churandy Martina. Some will be happy Gatlin hasn’t advanced, but most of all Bolt will have one fewer challenger.
- Andre DeGrasse put forward the first challenge of Usain Bolt that we’ve seen these Olympics. After getting a meme made out of how badly he was beaten in the 100m semifinal, DeGrasse was not about to let that happen again. As Bolt let up over the final meters, DeGrasse surged and made Bolt respond to hold him off. Bolt is still clearly superior, but it was good to see him sweat a bit.
Women’s Long Jump
Brittany Reese entered as a heavy favorite in the long jump with a season best .15 meters better than the next best woman. However, after a back-and-forth battle with fellow-American Tianna Bartoletta, Reese will go home with a silver medal.
Bartoletta, who also competed in the 100m in Rio, has come away with gold with a personal best jump of 7.17 meters. Reese ended up .02 meters behind. Serbian Ivana Spanovic took bronze.
The only Russian athlete permitted to compete in the track and field section of the Rio Olympics, Darya Klishina, finished 9th in the final with a jump of 6.63m.