RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Elaine Thompson inherited the mantle of Olympic 100 meters champion from fellow Jamaican Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce on Saturday but Mo Farah simply refused to relinquish his 10,000m crown as the Briton recovered from a fall to retain his title.
Fraser-Pryce, who took bronze in a fantastic final, became the third athlete in two days to discover why no woman has ever managed to win three individual athletics titles in a row, after Ethiopian 10,000m runner Tirunesh Dibaba and New Zealand shot-putter Valerie Adams both came up short on Friday.
Jessica Ennis-Hill also failed in her bid to defend her heptathlon title, pipped to gold by 21-year-old Belgian student Nafissatou Thiam, who said she had only dreamt of a top-eight finish prior to the event.
Farah, however, just does not know how to lose when it comes to the big races.
The Briton has won the 10,000m in the last two world championships and the 5,000 in the last three.
He has now won back-to-back Olympic 10,000m golds and is seeking to retain the 5,000m too, hoping to emulate Finn Lasse Viren, the only man to defend both titles in 1976 and who also fell while winning the longer race in 1972.
Every one of Farah’s victories have come in virtually the same way as he sits in behind a group of Ethiopians and Kenyans before blasting out an unstoppable final lap.
There was a twist on Saturday, however, as he tripped and fell early in the race when he tangled with his American training partner Galen Rupp with 16 laps remaining.
He bounced up quickly though and with the East Africans failing to test him by pushing the pace, there was an air of inevitability about the outcome as he swept past Kenya’s Paul Tanui and roared home.
“It’s hard mentally when you go down,” a tearful Farah admitted.
“I got emotional because you put so much work in and in one moment it’s gone,” Farah added. “That one moment could be it.”
The 100m final initially appeared impossible to call after all eight women qualified in sub-11 second times but as it turned out, Thompson won comfortably in 10.71 after hitting the front at halfway.
America Tori Bowie took silver in 10.83 while Fraser-Pryce, running with an injury, edged out Ivory Coast’s Marie-Josee Ta Lou by seven thousandths of a second.
“I’m very excited, I’m really happy, Jamaica has so many talented sprinters and to be only the second Olympic champion I’m really happy about that,” Thompson said.
Four years ago in London, Britain celebrated a “Super Saturday” as Farah, Ennis-Hill and Greg Rutherford claimed gold but it was a medal of each hue this time as Rutherford had to settle for bronze in an edge-of-the seat long jump competition.
American Jeff Henderson continued America’s proud tradition in the event when he flew 8.38 meters on his final jump, edging out South African Luvo Manyonga.
Usain Bolt began his bid for a “triple-triple” with a 10.07 100 meters heat — with arch rival Justin Gatlin the fastest qualifier in 10.01.
There was last-round drama in the discus as Germany’s Christophe Harting produced 68.37m with the penultimate throw to snatch the gold from Pole Piotr Malachowski and match his brother Robert’s success from four years ago.
Away from the track there was yet another, and unexpected, development in the Russian doping saga when the country’s sole track and field competitor, long jumper Darya Klishina, was suspended from the Games after the IAAF withdrew her special eligibility status.
Klishina had been allowed to come to Rio after satisfying the governing body that, based in the United States, she had operated in a bona-fide anti-doping environment.
However, the IAAF said it had received new information that led to her suspension. Klishina said the ban was politically motivated and is appealing to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
The men’s marathon is the only event on Sunday morning but the evening session is one not to miss as Bolt goes in the 100 meters final shortly after what should be a top-class men’s 400m.
Editing by John O'Brien