Bolt eyes record as Jamaica reign
In its first 14 Olympic appearances, Jamaica won only seven gold medals. But in the next three Olympics -- 2008 Beijing Games, 2012 London Games and the one currently running -- the island nation has bagged as many as 14 gold medals. And that count is almost certain to increase by the time the Rio Games are over.
Thanks to the exploits of the world's fastest man Usain Bolt and his teammates, the Jamaicans are having a ball in the sprint events at the Olympics. While Usain himself has won seven gold medals so far in two and a half Olympic Games, his colleagues, too, have stood up to be counted. The island has produced sprinters like Yohan Blake and Asafa Powell to complete the dominance of Jamaica's male athletes while Shelly Anne Fraser-Pryce had so far carried the country's baton in women's sprint. It seems that baton has passed onto a new queen in Elaine Thompson, who has completed the double in women's sprint after winning the 200m dash on Wednesday. It looks like the sprint factory of the world is not moving from Jamaica for some time to come.
The 21-year-old Jamaican lit up the Olympic Stadium with an injury-defying 21.78-second dash which put the favourite Dafne Schippers to the shade and catapulted herself to the height of American legend Florence Griffith Joyner.
"My school motto was 'let the light shine' and I let my light shine tonight," Thompson told reporters, after dusting herself up from the track and posing for the photographs, with elation and exhaustion etched on her face.
Meanwhile, Bolt gave further proof that he is the one to beat by breezing his way to a semifinal victory in the 200m, the final of which will take place at 7:30am Bangladesh time.
The seven-time Olympic champion clocked 19.78 seconds, even with his typical languid strides as he approached the finishing line, to pip Canada's 100m bronze medallist Andre de Grasse by 0.02 seconds. The Jamaican later joked about being pushed all the way by the Canadian.
"He was supposed to slow down. I said 'What are you doing, it's a semifinal?' Bolt told reporters. "But I think he wanted to push me. I was a bit lazy but I got round."
There was a surprise, though, as Justin Gatlin, the fastest man in 200m this year, failed to make it to the final.
The American seemed to take it a little too easy once in the lead, paving the way for the Netherlands' Churandy Martina and Panama's Alonso Edward to edge past him into the qualifying positions.
Bolt, however, was not concerned who he would be running against. Having won this event in the last two Olympics and four world championships, the 29-year-old Jamaican was eyeing the world record, which he had set at 19.19 seconds in 2009.
"I definitely think I can try for the world record," Bolt said. "I need to run efficiently and get into the straight and run the perfect race. I will be hoping for lane six or seven maybe to be able to run as smooth as I can."