Sat | Sep 23, 2023

Budapest sprint schedule will suit Elaine

Published:Tuesday | September 6, 2022 | 12:11 AMHubert Lawrence/Gleaner Writer
Jamaica’s Elaine Thompson Herah (right) celebrates next to the display board after she set an Olympic record in winning gold in the 100 metres at last year’s Tokyo Olympics. Thompson Herah clocked 10.61 seconds to break the previous mark, 10.62,  set b
Jamaica’s Elaine Thompson Herah (right) celebrates next to the display board after she set an Olympic record in winning gold in the 100 metres at last year’s Tokyo Olympics. Thompson Herah clocked 10.61 seconds to break the previous mark, 10.62, set by American Florence Griffiths Joyner in 1988.
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Jamaica’s Elaine Thompson Herah wins the women’s 200m final at last  year’s Tokyo Olympic Games.
File Jamaica’s Elaine Thompson Herah wins the women’s 200m final at last year’s Tokyo Olympic Games.
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When Elaine Thompson Herah sees the schedule for the 2023 World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary, she’s bound to smile. That’s because World Athletics, the global governing body of track and field, is returning to the sprint schedule...

When Elaine Thompson Herah sees the schedule for the 2023 World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary, she’s bound to smile. That’s because World Athletics, the global governing body of track and field, is returning to the sprint schedule that Thompson Herah used as a launch pad to four Olympic Games gold medals.

Those championships, which open in the Hungarian capital next year on August 19, have discarded the tight schedule used in Doha, at the 2019 renewal, and this year in Eugene, Oregon. The critical change is in the insertion of a rest day between the 100 metres final and the start of the 200 metres.

The schedule reads as follows:

Women’s 100 metres (local times)

Day 2: 12.15 -- heats

Day 3: 20.35 - semi-finals

Day 3: 21.50 - final

Women’s 200 metres

Day 5: 12.05 - heats

Day 6: 19.45 - semi-final

Day 7: 21.40 - final

The same set-up was in force when Thompson Herah won her first Olympic 100m/200m double in the 2016 Olympic Games. Then 25, the slim speedster first won the 100m in 10.71 seconds, just 0.01 off her personal best at the time. After the rest day, she made her way to the 200m final, which she won in 21.78 seconds.

When she tried the double in Doha, the rest day was gone. By then, she was in the throes of enduring painful Achilles tendon trouble, and it didn’t help that the first round of the 200m began just hours after a late night that ended with the 100m final. The two annoyances combined to force her out of the 200m at the semi-final stage.

The rest day reappeared at the 2021 Olympics and, with the Achilles trouble subdued, Thompson Herah cranked out super times of 10.61 seconds to win the 100m, and then 21.53 seconds to ace the 200m.

She has ascribed her modest 2022 form to the gradual process of learning a new training system, but it couldn’t have helped that in Eugene, the rest day reappeared in the wrong place. Instead of separating the 100m final, where she placed third, and the 200m first round, it appeared between the 200m semi-final round and the final.

The results were predictable. Her semi-final time was 21.97, but in the final, she was seventh in 22.39.

She won’t be the only one to jump for joy. If 35-year-old super sprinter Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce tries to repeat her 2013 World Championships sprint double, the rest day will come in handy.

Further afield, those hoping that sensational Sydney McLaughlin will do a 400m/400m hurdles double in Budapest will be disappointed. There is an overlap between those two events that would keep McLaughlin coming to the track five days straight. In addition, on day three, the heats of the 400 metres hurdles are less than three hours before the 400m semi-final round. Under those circumstances, the awesome American, who lowered her hurdles world record to 50.68 seconds in Eugene, may well give the double a hard pass.