After claiming the 100m and 200m crowns at Rio 2016, Jamaica's Elaine Thompson-Herah's struggles with injury led her to withdraw from last year's World Championships. But wins in her last two Diamond League races have seen her finish the season in style as she looks forward to defending her titles at next year's Olympic Games.
Thompson-Herah shines in Diamond League finale
Double Olympic champion Elaine Thompson-Herah finished out the season with a dominant display at the Diamond League meet in Doha on Friday, 25 September. The Jamaican sprint star posted a time of 10.87 to see off the challenges of Côte d’Ivoire’s Marie-Josee Ta Lou (11.21) and Kayla White of the USA.
Thompson-Herah’s performance follows the world leading time of 10.85 she set at last week’s Diamond League meeting in Rome and represents a huge turnaround for an athlete whose struggles with injury saw her withdraw from the 2019 World Championships in Doha.
In an interview with Olympic Channel, she described her recent struggles as “a battle between myself and injury.” But even when going through some of the hardest moments of her career, she has been keen to maintain a positive mindset.
"I can't do anything about what’s happened in the past," she said. "I have to continue working hard and move on, because I am a top athlete and I just have to work my way back onto to the top. And I know one day this achilles pain, and all goes away.”
Tokyo in her sights
If recent performances are anything to go by, Thompson-Herah is back on track to defend her Olympic titles next year in Tokyo, even though the postponement of the Games initially felt like a setback.
“I am a double Olympic champion. I wanted to go back and retain the titles,” she explained. "I was disappointed when I heard the news, but happy at the same time because our health is most important."
But having had time to process, Thompson-Herah now feels having an extra year to prepare has given her the opportunity to re-set her goals before athletics' blue ribbon events take place in 2021.
“This season helps us to work on things, work on our weak areas, set our goals. Even though they are set, we can set more goals and keep working on them, reset and continue to work hard.”
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Duplantis does just enough
It's been a long season for Mondo Duplantis, but he finished it with a win despite experiencing something of an off-day.
Up against him were world champion Sam Kendricks, the last man to beat him, and London 2012 gold medallist Renaud Lavillenie.
The trio all cleared 5.82m, the Swede with his first attempt while his rivals needed all three to get over.
The competition was over when Lavillenie and Kendricks both had three failures at 5.92m with Duplantis sealing his 16th consecutive victory despite two failures at that height.
Ever the crowdpleaser, Duplantis then had one attempt at 6.00m but knocked off the bar to end the season with something of a whimper.
That said, he could be excused for feeling somewhat tired having had a year to remember including breaking the absolute world record twice indoors back in February, and the outdoor world record earlier this month.
McSweyn breaks Australian 1,500m record
Stewart McSweyn was rewarded for a bold run in the 1,500m with a new Australian record of 3:30.51.
No one else in the field was prepared to go with the pacemakers, but the 25-year-old stuck to his task and lasted home having set a new 3,000m national record last week in Rome.
McSweyn also holds the 10,000m Australian record with next year's Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games foremost in the Tasmanian runner's mind.
He said, "I wasn't in the best of shape coming into this race but to win tonight is something I am very delighted about. I just wanted to race again considering how this season has been.
"It was a very competitive race but I executed my plan quite well and I maintained the pace. I intend to go back to Australia and take a short break after this before resuming training again.
Kipyegon reigns supreme at 800m
Reigning 1,500m Olympic champion Faith Kipyegon showed her adaptability with a fine victory in her first 800m since 2015.
The Kenyan could have a double at Tokyo in mind after surging clear in the last 200m to clock 1:57.69 for a new personal best and the fastest time in the world this year.
Kipyegon said, "I wasn't really expecting to win and that's why I am very surprised not only with the win but with my record here tonight. It's a great feeling and I am happy to be here in Doha."
While the possibility of seeing the Kenyan athlete run the 800m/1,500m double at next year's Games is a mouthwatering prospect, it may also represent the last time we see the athlete compete over the shorter distances after she made clear her intentions to switch to 5,000m after Tokyo 2020.