viernes, 18 de enero de 2013

2009-12 REVIEW. Women's 100m, 200m, 4x100m



Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake at the 2012 Olympic Games 200m final
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2008 was a landmark year in sprinting events. It was the year Usain Bolt produced his colossal breakthrough at Beijing Olympic Games, beating effortlessly the fastest men in the world and claiming the world record at the 100m final, in spite of slowing down once he had secured the victory, and also erasing from the record books the superhuman mark of 19.32 which Michael Johnson had achieved in Atlanta-96 at the 200m distance. Yet, significantly, those Olympic Games were not only the scenario of the prowess of an individual but also of the whole Jamaican team, which sensationally dominated all four pure sprinting events at stake, defeating in each occasion the USA, the traditional powerhouse of the specialty.  Because of the unbelievable achievements of Lightning Bolt, the succesful defense of Veronica Campbell-Brown at the women’s 200m and even the historical swept of the whole 100m podium by Shelly-Ann Fraser, Kerron Stewart and Sherone Simpson were overshadowed. The Caribbean country went home with no less than 6 gold medals, a feat which marked the beginning of its athletic supremacy.
            After such groundbreaking demonstration, the question was if Jamaica would be able of keeping its sprinting stardom all along the new Olympic cycle, or, on the contrary, the rest of the world, specially the well-defeated North Americans, would put the means to face Bolt and company and strike back. Four years later, the answer is Jamaica continues dominating the most emblematic athletic event, the 100m, and also remains at the top at the other sprint distance, the 200m. Only the fabulous Allyson Felix, with her victory at the latter event, avoided a new swept of the gold medals by their Caribbean neighbours at the 2012 London Olympic Games. Bolt defended majestically both individual titles and also the one at the 4x100m relay, and so did Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce. If in Beijing we had seen a clean swept of the female’s 100m podium, in London, Bolt, his dolphin Yohan Blake and newcomer Warren Weir got all the medals at the male’s 200m final. 
            Four years ago, Jamaica dominated in quality, in medal number, while The United States still had the consolation of its superior depth. However, by 2012, Jamaica has considerably reduced this gap to the point they have almost matched their archrivals, at least in the men’s side. Between 2005-2008, USA’s 23 male representatives at the top-50 scored 696 points at the 100m, against the 347 points amassed by the 6 Jamaican athletes ranked. Now between 2009-2012, USA just wins 597 to 526, with Jamaica doubling up the number of top-50 athletes from 6 to 12. In similar fashion, at the 200m event, the United States which controlled the ranking in the former Olympic cicle with 768 points against 279 of Jamaica, are currently witnessing how their neighbours are getting closer and closer (668 to 507 points).   See TEAMS RANKING

In the Caribbean island, more and more talented youngsters are taking the spotlight, hoping to succeed one day national heroes Usain Bolt, Asafa Powell or Veronica Campbell-Brown. In recent years, rising athletes as Nickel Ashmeade, Warren Weir, Mario Forsythe, Jason Young or Kemar Bailey Cole have shone internationally, alongside veterans Bolt, Powell, Carter and Frater, and the list of new names has no end. And among all, the 100m World Champion in Daegu, the outstanding Yohan Blake, who has dared to challenge the same almighty Bolt. Track and field is being handled so masterfully in Jamaica that even arguably the best sprinter ever could find a valid heir before retirement. Solid young female sprinters are trying to be an alternative to the consolidated stars as well but their contribution have been much more modest than their male counterparts Blake, Weir or Ashmeade. Simone Facey has stagnated and Anneisha McLaughlin, Schillonie Calvert, Carrie Russell, Samantha Henry or Jura Levy, thought all of them excellent sprinters, have failed for the moment to reach the heights of recent Olympic medallists as Veronica, Shelly-Ann or Kerron. As an indication, in spite of having lowered their game lately, Kerron Stewart, Sherone Simpson and even big veteran Aleen Bailey have had no troubles in making the national team for last World Championships and Olympics, against those youngsters.   Maybe we will have to wait for the awesome 15th-year-old Shauna Helps, who has not lost yet a race in Champs in three years and is already a Carifta Games gold medallist. Incidentally, Shauna comes from Wolmer’s High, which is Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce’s former school.  

Kerron Stewart, Shelly-Ann Fraser and Carmelita Jeter competing in Zurich in 2009
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          Anyway, there is no doubt Jamaica is the driving force in current sprinting world. Many accusations of enhancing drug use have been adressed to Jamaican athletes to explain their phenomenal success. Specially, critical voices sustain Usain Bolt’s performances and the way he has demolished the existing records are not possible without testosterone and steroids.  Well, it is true there have been several doping positives in the last years in both USA’s and Jamaica’s sides, including Berlin Worlds 200m finalist Steve Mullings’, who got a life ban. Notwithstanding we can not forget Usain Bolt is no less than a genius, such talented athlete you can see only one like him in a century, someone who had already run the 200m event in 20.13 when he was sixteen, and he has also been guided masterfully by his coach Glenn Mills since he turned pro. Traditionally, Jamaican talent used to be spotted by USA agents to be drove to their colleges. Asafa Powell and hurdler Brigitte Foster-Hylton set the precedent of ignoring foreign offers and staying in Jamaica to study and develop a professional track and field career with the at the time scarcely-known coach Stephen Francis in MVP Track Club. Since then many Jamaican runners have opted to join either Francis or Glenn Mills at Racers Track Club and now the island has a solid reputation for its world class coaching. Now Jamaican runners do not need anymore to travel abroad to have good training but instead foreign athletes are attired to develop their athletic career in Jamaica.
It is important to understand too that in Jamaica, as in Kenya or Ethiopia, track and field is the king of sports. Every kid dreams of escaping a tough life to become the new Usain Bolt. Besides, and unlike in Kenya or Ethiopia, because of more than 100 years of experience, there is a  well established organisation of track and field. Let us say no public or private sector in the life of the country works better than athletics. There is not anywhere in the world an sportive event as Champs, which has been staged for over a century to make compete the high school boys and girls of all the country under an enthusiastic crowd of 30.000 spectators. Participating in Champs and getting used since young age to challenging competition and huge pressure is arguably the most important reason behind Jamaican athletic success. It is the same for those like Bolt or Blake who set records at Champs or those like Veronica Campbell and Shelly-Ann Fraser who struggled to make a name for themselves there. All of them learned a good lesson at Champs. Often the inability of Asafa Powell to face the pressure of a major championship is explained for his lack of experience at Champs: he belonged to a small school and only once got the opportunity to participate in the most renowned high school track and field event in the world.   http://moti-athletics-200-w.blogspot.com.es/


Allyson Felix competing in Berlin at the 2009 World Championships,
 where she got her third straight title in a row
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      Allyson Felix and Veronica Campbell-Brown may well be two of the best ever female sprinters in modern history of track and field, for both their outstanding performances and their longevity, their capacity to remain at the top for nearly a decade. It is a case similar to Tirunesh Dibaba, Meseret Defar and Vivian Cheruiyot in long distance running. Allyson Felix and Veronica Campbell were already track stars since they were in their teens: Allyson had run the 200m distance in 22.11 when she was still in high school, while Veronica, three years her elder, had effortlessly become World youth and World junior champion succesively. The come of age for both athletes came at the 2004 Olympic Games final in Athens, where they clashed for the first time. Campbell won narrowly that race over 18-year-old Felix. Since then and up to date, either the Jamaican or the USA athlete have triumphed in every major championship over the 200m distance in highly exciting alternatives. Allyson crowned herself in Helsinki-2005 and defended two years later in Osaka with a remarkable 21.81 PB, to gap Veronica in half-a-second but the Jamaican bounced back the following year in Beijing to complete the distance in the best time in the decade (21.74) and thus beat her long time archrival and defend her Olympic title. One year later at Berlin World Championships it was again Allyson Felix turn. The USA great won the gold medal quite easily in 22.02 over Campbell- Brown and Bahamian Debbie Ferguson McKenzie. Thus Allyson Felix became the first woman in winning three world sprint titles and besides all of them in a row.

The 2009 World Championships were highly succesful for big veterans Debbie Ferguson (33 years) and Chandra Sturrup (almost 38), the last survivors of the outstanding Bahamian generation which won the 4x100m relay titles at the 1999 World Champs and the 2000 Olympics. And precisely, Ferguson-McKenzie was the penultimate 200m World champion back in 2001, before the rising of the Felix-Campbell dinasty, and still had the strenght 8 years afterwards to challenge the youngsters. Both Ferguson and Sturrup made also the 100m final and obtained an extraordinary silver medal at the 4x100m relay. Yet nothing can surprise us anymore about age, when a 52-year-old Merlene Ottey was still trying to qualify with the Slovenian relay for major competitions by 2012. However the fact that still the aged Ferguson and Sturrup continued leading Bahamian sprinters in 2009, with no other athlete of the country on the horizon meant much of a crisis. Fortunately the near future looks now quite promising for the Caribbean country because the two most outstanding youngsters currently in the area happen to be two Bahamian athletes: Antonique Strachan and Shaunae Miller, both World junior champions and Carifta Games big stars.

Shelly-Ann Fraser took the world by surprise when she won the 100m Olympic final in Beijing, thanks to her cannonball-like outburst from the blocks, leading an all-Jamaican podium, along with Kerron Stewart and Sherone Simpson. Then journalists discovered that almost unknown Jamaican youngster athlete, who had eliminated Veronica Campbell-Brown at the national Olympic trials, was a true fighter who had overcome very difficult upbringings in one of the toughest Kingston neighborhoods to become a world class athlete and also the first person in her family with a college degree.   http://moti-athletics-100-w.blogspot.fr/2012/02/one-thousand-reasons.html   Yet as hard as it was to get to the top, it was even more difficult to keep it. The following year, for the World Championships in Berlin, Shelly was not even the favourite. She had suffered from appendicitis and had not been fitted enough during the year. On the other hand, her compatriot and double Olympic medallist in Beijing, Kerron Stewart, was in outstanding form. Indeed, only three weeks before Worlds she had run the distance in a sensational 10.75 at the Golden Gala, defeating handily the Olympic champion.
Notwithstanding, as we know, Shelly-Ann Fraser was born for big challenges. In the decisive race, Shelly went out like a rocket, taking some decisive metres over the field. She faded some in the end while Kerron was progressing and closing the gap but Fraser still held off to win 10.73 to 10.75 of her mate. In the process she had broken Merlene Ottey’s national record. Making up for not qualifying for the Olympic Games, US Carmelita Jeter grabbed the bronze, leaving respective defending and former champions Veronica Campbell and Lauryn Williams out of the podium. For Williams and Muna Lee, 4th at the 200m, two of the most talented athletes of their generation it was their last participation in a major contest, due to persistent injury issues. After a rather dissapointing championship for her, the double Olympic gold medallist Veronica Campbell declined to participate in the relay. In a contest where both male and female US 4x100m squads failed to finish, Jamaica enjoyed the occasion to win gold with a team formed by Fraser, Stewart, Simone Facey and Aleen Bailey, ahead of the Bahamas and Germany, which, anchored by Verena Sailer, left the Beijing Olympic champion Russian quartet without a medal. 

Such extraordinary 2009 season in sprints was not to be close without a last highlight, which was as impressive as the victories of Allyson Felix and Shelly-Ann Fraser in Berlin: the 13th September at the World Athletics Final in Thessaloniki, Carmelita Jeter clocked 10.67, which she improved to 10.64! one week later in Shanghai. Only Florence Griffith-Joyner in 1988 had run faster. Jeter had entered a new dimension and had taken over the fastest of the track and field events. Yet let us say Carmelita Jeter’s progression as a runner was far from being the typical one: Jeter was much of an average runner until 2007 when she dropped at 28 years of age her PB in almost half-a-second, from 11.48 to 11.02. That year she made the US team for Osaka World championships and there snatched a remarkable bronze medal. However the following season she lived the dissapointment of not qualifying for the Olympic Games. It made her change coaches and thus she moved to John Smith, the man behind Mo Greene’s great career. When Smith watched Carmelita’s video from Osaka, he was amazed that girl had almost won that big race with such raw technique: head bobbing,  arms moving exaggeratedly from side to side...  In Carmelita’s words she had to learn to run anew at 29 and at the beginning the training routine was even humiliating for her, but eventually it paid off: John Smith had told Jeter she could easily improve 3 tenths of a second at the 100m event and that is what he got.
 
 
Michelle-Lee Ahye, one of the best in the new generation of
 female sprinters from Trinidad and Tobago
Michael Steele/ Getty Images Europe
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2010 was the year of Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce’s absurd positive for the ingestion of a toothache painkiller in the eve of a Diamond League meeting, which let the Jamaican out for six months. Without her main rival, Carmelita Jeter was the comfortable dominator of the season. Notwithstanding, Veronica Campbell-Brown made clear she was not done yet: Firstly, she won the 60m gold during the winter at the World indoor Championships, a title she would defend two years later. Then during the summer she defeated both Jeter in Eugene and Felix in New York. The marks obtained in those races allowed her to lead the rankings in both 100m (10.78) and 200m (21.98). Third at the 100m stood former Louisiana State student and NCAA champion Kelly-Ann Baptiste, who had steadily progressed to 10.84 to become one of the best sprinters in the world. Kelly-Ann won at the inaugural edition of the Continental Cup that year. If the Bahamas have been struggling to keep being a sprinting powerhouse, Trinidad and Tobago’s women are quickly approching the awesome level which male sprinters in the country have had for decades. It is a pity 400m hurdler Josanne Lucas could not keep her 2009 form, when she won the bronze medal at Worlds. Nevertheless, Baptiste is leading an awesome young generation of sprinters: Semoy Hackett and Kai Selvon, who have grown as athletes in USA Colleges (LSU and Auburn respectively) and Michelle-Lee Ahye, a three times Carifta gold medallist. Hackett was an Olympic finalist at the 200m and all four together have formed a fearsome 4x100m relay (though unlucky in Daegu and London major competitions). They all have a great future ahead of them.    
In a year with no global competitions, athletes focused in Area championships and we had some interesting results in some of them. Veteran Cydonie Mothersill, a multiple World and Olympic finalist was still going strong enough to win for Cayman Islands the 200m gold medal at the Central American Games and also at the Commonwealth. Chisato Fukushima lowered the Japanese sprint records to 11.21 and 22.89 and won the gold medal at both events at the Asian Games. However, she could not get a third victory because her team, who had accomplished a huge record at the 4x100m the year before, was sensationally beaten by Thailand, in the swan song of an historical quartet, Olympic in Beijing. African Championships had also much to offer. Blessing Okagbare was well known as the Nigerian student at a US college who had upset the field at the Olympic Games, taking a surprise bronze medal at the long jump. Now she had also specialised at the 100m with remarkable success, collecting the same year four NCAA titles among jump and sprint events. In her breakthrough year she ran 11.03 in Nairobi to defeat the number one sprinter in the continent, her compatriot Oludamola Osayomi, who got just bronze. Another quickly improving African athlete, Gabon’s Ruddy Zhang Milama, who had medalled at the World Indoors that same winter, splitted the Nigerians. In amazing alternatives, Osayomi would get revenge at the African Games the following year and Milama would win at the new edition of the African Champs in 2012, relegating in both occasions Okagbare to silver. Yet the athlete who would truly rivalized at global level with Okagbare was the US based athlete from Ivory Coast, Murielle Ahouré, whose breaktrough came in the Olympic year.  

In recent years, we had assisted to a crisis in European female sprinting. Kim Gevaert and an aged Christine Arron were the only athletes in the continent who could really face the best in the world. After the Belgian ace retirement, European fans were wondering about the future in the sector. Yet the European Championships in Barcelona offered amazing and optimistic results. Verena Sailer, who had won bronze in Berlin at the 4x100m the year before, claimed the vacant spot of Gevaert, in a good mark of 11.10, just narrowly holding off French Véronique Mang and Myriam Soumaré and another promising athlete who was going to do well in the years to come: Ezinne Okparaebo from Norway. Sailer was the first German female who claimed an European sprint title since Katrin Krabbe’s victories in 1990. The 200m final was even more exciting. The European leader and big favourite Aleksandra Fedoriva was well beaten by Myriam Soumaré and the Ukrainian girl who had won at the European team Championships, Yelizaveta Bryzhina. Afterwards, the dissapointed 4x100m Olympic champion would get some consolation with her victory at the Continental Cup in September.
        Soumaré had been convinced by mates and coach that she had a huge talent for athletics so finally she had taken training seriously. The result was an improvement on his PB from 23.01 to the 22.32! she ran in Barcelona to win. All seven athletes who finished the race completed the distance in less than 22.70. It was the best depth we had seen in many years at the Championships and, interestingly, far better that what Berlin Worlds had offered. Nevertheless the most intriguing sprint final in Barcelona was after all the 4x100m relay. A young and unheralded Ukrainian team, from which we only knew one of the four girls was the daughter of former Olympic champion Olga Wladykina, ran an outstanding race and it was precisely that daughter of Wladykina and Viktor Bryzgin who ate up Polish anchor Weronika Wedler down the homestretch and held off the surge of French European record holder Christine Arron to take the gold medal in 42.29, a huge national record and the best winning time in the championships in 20 years. Every member of the relay was very fast and played her part to perfection but what really stood out in the Ukrainian team performance was the synchronisation among the girls, the flawless turnovers: as Povh delivers to Pohrebnyak, this one is already in full speed, and the exchange between Ryemyen and anchor Bryzhina is so perfect you do not even realise the baton changes hands. Then it was revealed that in similar fashion to old East German teams, those athletes had been working together in their relay for years. It explains the different result between them and the almost improvised USA squads for major championships.    http://www.moti-athletics-4x1-w.blogspot.fr/2011/07/whats-up-with-ukrainian-girls.html 

Ivet Lalova - 21st European Athletics Championships - Day Two
Ivet Lalova wins the 2012 European Championships ahead of Olesya Povh and Ezinne Okparaebo
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Ukrainian sprinters continued making a name of themselves in 2011. Olesya Povh remained unbeaten all the winter, culminating her flawless campaign with her 60m gold medal at the European Indoor Champs, in a race Mariya Ryemyen got silver and a third compatriot, Hrystyna Stuy almost completed an all-Ukrainian podium. Yet, during the summer, it was precisely their less fancied sprinter, Stuy, who surprisingly made the 200m final at the World Championships in Daegu. Besides, The 4x100m team obtained an announced bronze medal, in a race where the US team of Bianca Knight, Allyson Felix, Marshevet Myers and Carmelita Jeter recovered the title against defending champions Jamaica. By 2012 Ukraine had such incredible depth in the 200m event that Ryemyen and Stuy had to win gold and silver at the European Championships in Helsinki, beating the young Pyatachenko and defending champion Myriam Soumaré on the way, to be able to join Bryzhina at the Olympic Games. Nevertheless the European athlete who truly made the highlights during those years was Ivet Lalova. The Bulgarian ace who once ran the 100m in 10.77, still the second best European mark ever, and finished 4th at the 100m and 5th at the 200m at the 2004 Olympic Games at 20 years of age, had seen her promising athletic career cut short when she broke her femur while warming up in a meeting the following year. Doctors said Lalova would never be able to practise sport elite anymore but she refused to give up. During six difficult years of up and downs she went to hospital up to seven times to undergo knee surgery. Yet eventually Ivet’s struggles got their reward: by 2011 the Bulgarian sprinter seemed miraculously recovered. She won at the Bislett Games and broke again the 11 seconds barrier at the Balkan Games. Almost living in a dream, Lalova got to make the 100m final at Worlds in Daegu and the next year was crowned European champion in Helsinki, beating the best 100m specialists in the continent as Olesya Povh and Verena Sailer.   http://moti-athletics-100-w.blogspot.fr/2012/07/nellum-lalova-long-way-to-olympics.html

The defending 100m world and Olympic champion Shelly-Ann Fraser had a brilliant starting for her 2011 campaign, winning at the Jamaica Invitational at the 200m distance in a slightly windy 22.10, beating handily Veronica Campbell. However, small injuries slowed her preparation. She was not totally fitted for Daegu Worlds and could only handle a fourth place at the final. On the other hand, Allyson Felix tested her chances of emulating Valerie Brisco-Hooks’ legendary double Olympic victory in Los Angeles-84 at the 200m-400m distances. It proved too risky for the three times defending champion as it had been announced months before by specialists as Track and Field News. Pushed to the limits and eventually defeated by Amantle Montso at the 400m, Allyson was not fresh enough for the 200m final and so ended up in bronze medal position, in 22.42, a performance which, wind or no wind, is her worst ever in a major contest. And in the end, for someone like her, to come back home with a silver and a bronze means a failure. The big winners in Daegu were instead Carmelita Jeter and Veronica Campbell-Brown. Jeter kept her momentum to win her first major competition. She was in stellar form the whole year, clocking 10.70 at Prefontaine, 10.74 at nationals and 10.78 at the Ivo Van Damme meeting. Against a strong headwind, she was also the best in Daegu, winning gold in 10.90, ahead of Veronica Campbell-Brown. It was also the confirmation of Kelly-Ann Baptiste with her bronze medal as one of the best sprinters in the world, the same than Okagbare, who crossed the line in a praiseworthy 5th place. On the other hand, Kerron Stewart was only 6th and Marshevet Hooker-Myers, who had clocked 10.86 at the national trials, ended up in a dissapointing last position. At the 200m, Veronica Campbell swapped placements with Jeter, to win the title she lacked in her outstanding résumé in 22.22. The United States obtained second, third and fourth places with Jeter, Felix and Shalonda Salomon respectively.  

For the first time in several seasons, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce was free from injuries or another kind of setbacks to prepare the Olympic Games, but how could she beat such a strong athlete as Jeter? Shelly used to kill the races in the first 20 metres but her archrival outburst was nearly as good as hers and Jeter was much more powerful in the end. Even mentally, it was not easy to strike back after 8 straight defeats against the gold medallist in Daegu. The solution was maybe to work on the weakest point of Shelly-Ann as a sprinter: if she wanted to defend her Olympic title she could not fade in the end of the race. The girl from Waterhouse used to hate the 200m event but Stephen Francis convinced her to also run that distance during the year to increase her speed endurance. It seemed to work out: at the Jamaican trials, Fraser came in the shape of her life, winning impressively both the 100m and 200m, setting a new national record at the former distance (10.70) and accomplishing a new PB at the latter (22.10). Veronica Campbell-Brown qualified in both races for London as well while Kerron Stewart achieved it at the 100m and Sherone Simpson at the 200m.  On the other hand, all the United States sprinting stars planned doubling up as well: Allyson Felix had a more reasonable choice this time (100m-200m), Carmelita Jeter was doing the same distances while Sanya Richard-Ross would try a 200m-400m double. With Jeter and Felix winning the finals, the latter in a groundbreaking 21.69 PB, all three accomplished their double target and it left a lone spot vacant for the Olympic team in sprints which claimed Tianna Madison, another athlete with a quite strange track and field career progression: Tianna had jumped 6.89 to win the long jump world title in 2005 in Helsinki aged 19, following up this success with a silver medal at the World indoors the next winter. Since then however she was unable to go further than 6.60 in her whole jumping career. Then she gave up and decided to try to be a world level sprinting, accomplishing once a good mark of 11.05 in 2009 but not doing better than 11.20 afterwards... until 2012. The former long jump star was in stellar form during the winter, running the 60m event in 7.02 and in the end winning a bronze medal at the World indoors in Istanbul. Then she kept her momentum all over the summer, going to the Olympics, where she performed brilliantly to lower her PB to 10.85.
With no less than three US super stars running two events, the rest of the field had little chances of doing the American team. It affected experienced runners as Alex Anderson, Lashauntea Moore or Shalonda Solomon. Also Bianca Knight who had redshirted her whole college track and field career to become the new Allyson Felix and still had to make her first all-American team. Finally standout collegian runners as English Gardner who had set a new area junior record in 2011, being just a freshman in Oregon; Kimberlyn Duncan who had won in the last two years all four NCAA titles at stake at the 200m for LSU and whose PB was already 22.19; and Jeneba Tarmoh, who defending the colours of Texas A&M had clashed with Duncan in outstanding finals and had also been a 100m world junior champion back in 2008.  http://moti-athletics-200-w.blogspot.com.es/2011/08/who-is-in-college-now.html    Actually Tarmoh was initially given third at the 100m final but the officials rectified and ruled a controversial draw between her and Allyson Felix. A tiebreaker race was set but Tarmoh refused to run it. 

Murielle Ahouré, a double Olympic medallist for Ivory Coast
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That constellation of stars coming from Jamaica and United States made also specially tough to reach the sprint finals. 100m European champion Ivet Lalova, European leaders Verena Sailer (11.05) and Aleksandra Fedoriva (22.16), all three 200m Ukrainian standouts, Caribbean veteran Laverne Jones and Caribbean hope Antonique Strachan, and even silver medallists in Beijing Sherone Simpson and Kerron Stewart, all failed to reach the decisive races. To do it, it was necessary to run in 11.01! and 22.56! On the other hand, five women qualified for both finals: Fraser, Campbell-Brown, Felix, Jeter and the revelation of the year, running for Ivory Coast, Murielle Ahouré, silver medallist at the 60m event at the World Indoors in Istanbul and winner at three Diamond League meetings, including an upset to Olympic champion Shelly-Ann Fraser at the Golden Gala. With also Madison, Baptiste and Okagbare making the cut at the 100m and Richard-Ross and Hackett at the 200m, the only finalist not American-based was French 2010 European champion Myriam Soumaré, because also African athletes Okagbare and Ahouré had grown as elite athletes in the American collegiate system.

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce won a thrilling 100m final in 10.75 over Jeter (10.78) and Campbell-Brown (10.81) to defend her Olympic title, becoming only the third woman in doing so. Also Madison and Felix dipped under 10.90 in a high quality race. The dissapointment came from Kelly-Ann Baptiste (6th) and specially Blessing Okagbare, who finished in the last place of the race, after having won her heat and semi-final. Interestingly, Shelly was not the fastest out of the blocks, in fact there were several women ahead of her mid-race. It was with 20-30 metres remaining that she took the lead and did not relinquish it until the end. The Jamaican pocket-rocket was powerful the same down the homestretch at the 200m, making a serious claim to get an unexpected sprint double but Allyson Felix came from behind like a meteor to eventually win her first individual Olympic gold. Felix clocked 21.88 to 22.09 of Fraser, with Jeter winning her second medal of the Games in 22.14. The defending champion Veronica Campbell, who had focused her preparation for the 100m (the title she had never won) just could hold Sanya Richards for 4th place.

The United States, with Madison, Felix, Bianca Knight and Jeter, won the 4x100m relay in 40.82 in what was perhaps the performance of the Games. The US quartet demolished by more than half-a-second a world record which had belonged to the German Democratic Republic for 27 years. Jamaica with the same squad (Fraser, Simpson, Campbell, Stewart) that ran in Beijing 4 years before, won the silver in a national record, only four hundredths slower than the former universal mark (41.41). Ukraine, who had unexpectedly failed to finish at the recent European Championships, won confortably here the bronze also in a national record (42.04). In the best race ever, all the other finalists dipped under 43 seconds: Nigeria anchored by Okagbare, the European champion Germany, The Netherlands, with the youngest team in the contest, led by World junior medallists Dafne Schippers and Jamile Samuel, and Brazil, with both Pan American individual champions, Ana Claudia Silva and Rosangela Santos. Trinidad and Tobago, which had clocked 42.31 in semi-finals, unfortunately did not finish the race. Defending champion Russia did not make the final. Besides, the 100m was the only female event where this country did not place any runner into the top-50. France, the Bahamas and Colombia, winner of three area championships during this Olympic cycle, did not run the final either. Belgium, without Kim Gevaert, did not qualify for the Olympics and neither did Australia, in spite of the efforts of Sally Pearson, and the host country, Great Britain, which missed her promising sprinter Jodie Williams, out for injury.

 
  Women100m     Women200m        Women4x100m  
                 
1
Shelly-Ann Fraser 
JAM
 
1
Allyson Felix
USA
 
1
United States 
USA
2
Carmelita Jeter 
USA
 
2
Veronica Campbell 
JAM
 
2
Jamaica
JAM
3
Veronica Campbell 
JAM
 
3
Carmelita Jeter
USA
 
3
Ukraine
UKR
4
Kelly-Ann Baptiste 
TRI
 
4
Sanya Richards
USA
 
4
Germany
GER
5
Kerron Stewart 
JAM
 
5
Shelly-Ann Fraser 
JAM
 
5
Nigeria
NGR
6
Blessing Okagbare 
NGR
 
6
Shalonda Solomon
USA
 
6
Russia
RUS
7
Tianna Madison 
USA
 
7
Debbie Ferguson
BAH
 
7
Brazil
BRA
8
Allyson Felix
USA
 
8
Kimberlyn Duncan
USA
 
8
France
FRA
9
Murielle Ahouré 
CIV
 
9
Jeneba Tarmoh 
USA
 
9
Trinidad & Tobago
TRI
10
Marshevet Myers 
USA
 
10
Bianca Knight
USA
 
10
Bahamas
BAH
11
Sherone Simpson 
JAM
 
11
Myriam Soumaré
FRA
 
11
Netherlands
NED
12
Ivet Lalova 
BUL
 
12
Murielle Ahouré
CIV
 
12
Poland
POL
13
Alex Anderson
USA
 
13
Aleksandra Fedoriva
RUS
 
13
Colombia
COL
14
Ruddy Zhang Milama
GAB
 
14
Sherone Simpson
JAM
 
14
Belarus
BLR
15
Debbie Ferguson 
BAH
 
15
Anneisha McLaughlin
JAM
 
15
Japan
JPN
16
Aleen Bailey 
JAM
 
16
Kerron Stewart
JAM
 
16
Great Britain
GBR
17
Lauryn Williams
USA
 
17
Porscha Lucas
USA
 
17
Switzerland
SUI
18
Schillonie Calvert
JAM
 
18
Mariya Ryemyen
UKR
 
18
Belgium
BEL
19
Chandra Sturrup 
BAH
 
19
Yelizaveta Bryzhina
UKR
 
19
Australia
AUS
20
Shalonda Salomon
USA
 
20
Charonda Williams
USA
 
20
Italy
ITA

          Women100m                                         Women200m                                          Women4x100m

Check out the whole TOP-50 RANKINGS and complete STATISTICS for every event above/*
 

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