Elaine Thompson-Herah and Shaunae Miller-Uibo ended their respective seasons with the number-one rankings in the 100m and 200m, respectively in what was a track season like no other.

The 2019/2020 track season was characterized by meet cancellations and the introduction of virtual formats because the pandemic that has been sweeping the globe since March. However, meets gradually returned largely before empty stadia but many athletes still managed to deliver world-class performances.

Among them was the 2016 double Olympic champion who was fastest in the world over 100m for 2020.

Thompson Herah’s 10.85 set in Rome on September 17 beat out her compatriot and rival Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who ended her year ranked second by virtue of the 10.86s run at the Velocity Fest meeting in Kingston’s National Stadium on August 22.

Rising star Sha’ Carri Richardson, in her first full season as a professional, was third fastest with 10.95.

The Bahamian sprint queen was equally impressive in the year in which she set a personal best of 10.98s in the 100m and the world’s best time of 21.98 in the 200m at the Back to the Track Meeting in Clermont, Florida on July 25.

Richardson capped her great year with a personal best 22.00 that was the second fastest for 2020 while Thompson Herah’s 22.19 ranked her third in the world for the year.

Miller-Uibo, who last year set 48.37 the sixth fastest time in history over the 400m was only second best for 2020 with 50.52 set in Monteverde, Florida on July 4. That time was only bettered by Lynna Irby’s 50.50, the fastest time in the world this year.

Lieke Klaver of the Netherlands clocked 50.98, which made her third best in the world for the year.

Reigning Olympic sprint double champion, Elaine Thompson-Herah, insists a recent battle with injury and past major games disappointment has only served to strengthen her resolve and determination.

The 28-year-old runner was the toast of the Rio Olympics in 2016 after smashing the competition by speeding to blazing wins in the 100m and 200m sprints. It seemed the Jamaican was only destined for major success from there on in, but things have not quite unfolded in that manner. Just one year later, despite heading into the World Championship 100m final with the fastest time in the world that season, 10.71, Thompson-Herah finished a disappointing fifth place.

Two years later, at the 2019 edition of the World Championship, she was again at the top of the world charts, tied with a season-best 10.73 with teammate Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce. However, while Fraser-Pryce went on to excel with a gold medal-winning 10.71, Thompson-Herah finished fourth in  10.93. The athlete has also in-between struggled with an Achilles injury, which has affected her explosiveness and comfort on the track.

“Sometimes it may be a little bit stressing to be a top athlete facing all these obstacles,” Thompson-Herah told the Olympic Channel.

“You can’t produce the times that you normally produce, and you may not be able to get a medal at a championship. Sometimes you sit and you wonder, why me? Or why is this happening,” she added.

“Disappointments do come, but as I said, I have to continue to work hard because I didn’t go to a championship to lose, it was just beyond my control. We just have to use those disappointments to motivate. And that’s key. Disappointment makes you better and stronger.”

At the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, Brazil, Elaine Thompson-Herah became the first Jamaican woman and the seventh woman ever to win the 100/200m double at the same Olympic Games.

If she has her way, if the Olympics are held in Tokyo next year, she will be in a pantheon of one- the only female sprinter to successfully defend an Olympic sprint double at the same Olympics.

She believes it is possible but it depends on one key factor.

“(Being) healthy is key because when I am healthy I am in the best shape of my life, I don’t think I have reached that yet. I just want to maintain that health. I really want to capture back my double at the Olympics,” she said while speaking on the Drive Phase Podcast with host Dalton Myers.

“I want to retain my titles.”

When she won the sprint double in Rio, the achievement thrust her into the global spotlight as one of the greatest-ever female sprinters and made her a national treasure in a country known for athletic icons like Herb McKenley, Donald Quarrie, Merlene Ottey, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Usain Bolt.

However, unlike Fraser-Pryce and Bolt, Thompson-Herah has so far failed to build on that legacy. Injury and illness robbed her of possible gold medals at the 2017 World Championships in London and again at the 2019 World Championships in Doha, where she finished fourth in the 100m final, having gone into the meet with the joint fastest time in the world.

She said she doesn’t intend to dwell on those disappointments and will continue to work hard, hoping that that elusive World Championships gold medal will soon be hanging from her neck.

Meantime, she has other goals in mind.

 “I still want to get below that 10.7 barrier,” said the woman who shares Jamaica’s national record of 10.70 with two-time Olympic 100m champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce.

“I think I have it in me. It’s just about the time for it to come.”

She also believes she can go faster than her 200m 21.66 PB set in 2015 when she won the silver medal at the World Championships in Beijing, China.

“Once I am healthy anything is possible,” she said.

Coach Lance Brauman has allayed fears over the health of Shaunae Miller-Uibo after the 2019 World Championships 400m silver medallist failed to finish her 200m race at the Drake Blue Oval Showcase on Saturday.

Miller, who has season-best times of 10.98 and 21.98 over the 100 and 200m, respectively, was a heavy favourite to win the half-lap sprint. However, she pulled up during the second of two heats won by the USA’s Lynna Irby in 22.52.

Coach Brauman, however, said the athlete felt some tightness, “nothing major,” he said.

Miller-Uibo, the 2016 Olympic 400m champion, had been unbeaten over the 200m for the past two seasons during which she ran a personal best 21.74 run in Zurich on August 29, 2019. Her only loss over the 400m came in October last year at the 2019 World Championships in Doha where she ran a personal best 48.37 only to lose to Bahrain’s Salwa Eid Nasser who ran 48.14, the third-fastest time in history.

Megan Tapper clocked a season-best time in the 100m hurdles on Saturday at the Drake Blue Oval Showcase where Bahamian star Shaunae Miller-Uibo failed to finish the 200m won the USA’s Lynna Irby.

Tapper, running in the second of two heats, clocked 12.96 while finishing behind Tiffany Porter, who also had a season-best 12.90 to win the heat. Meanwhile, heat-one winner Payton Chadwick was third overall with her time of 12.97s.

The 26-year-old Jamaican was elated at the time.

“Finally! A race to call home about,” she posted on Instagram. “The last one was definitely the best one.”

Heading into the meet, many would have been looking forward to Miller-Uibo’s run in the 200m. Unbeaten over the 200m for the past two seasons, the towering Bahamian sprinter boasts season-best times of 10.98 and 21.98 over the 100m and 200m, respectively, set in Clermont in July.

However, any chance of her going faster was dashed when she failed to complete the second of two 200m heats. Winner of the heat, the USA’s Lynna Irby, crossed the line first and was the overall winner in 22.52.

Her compatriot Kyra Jefferson, finished second in 22.69, a time good enough for second overall. Miller-Uibo’s compatriot, Tynia Gaither, finished third in the heat in 23.08, however, her time saw her finish fourth overall behind the USA’s Shakima Wimbley, who won the opening heat in 23.07.

In the men’s 200m Panama’s Alonso Edward clocked 20.69 but was beaten into second place by the USA’s Justin Robinson who clocked 20.67. However, the outright winner was Josephus Lyles who stopped the clock in 20.32 to win the first of the two heats.

His time meant Edwards finished third overall.

After a season battling injuries in 2019, Nathon Allen seems to be on the mend and relishing the feeling.

When Shaunae Miller-Uibo completed her fantastic sprint double at the Back to the Track: Clermont track meet on the weekend, she moved up the ranks in an elite class of athlete – the combined sprinter.

Competing at the American Track League meeting on Saturday was a release for Natalliah Whyte, the 2019 sprint relay gold medallist.

Citing the perceived reluctance of the Olympic organisers to adjust the schedule at next summer’s Games, 2016 Olympic 400m champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo is mulling stepping down to the 200m for Tokyo 2021.

The 26-year-old Bahamian has been the best 200/400m sprinter in the world over the past two seasons, has requested an adjustment to the schedule that would allow her to attempt the double, something they have done to accommodate Americans Michael Johnson and Allyson Felix as well as French track icon Marie Jose Perec.

However, to date, the Bahamian and her Olympic committee have heard nothing to suggest that the IOC will honour her request.

“We have made an appeal to have the schedule changed. We’ve not received a positive response as yet, but we remain hopeful that they would take another look at it because it means so much to us and it means so much to Shaunae Miller-Uibo,” said Bahamas Olympic Committee President Romell Knowles while speaking with the Bahamas Guardian.

“To come from such a small island and to get an opportunity to be among the best in the world in both the 200 and 400 meters is just phenomenal. The precedence has already been set and we would just like to be given that opportunity. It means so much to a little country like ours that has produced such great athletes.”

Meanwhile, Miller-Uibo, for now, seems resigned to the possibility that she will have to drop one of her events.

 “As it is now, the schedule isn’t set up for me to do two events, so I would have to choose one event and we’re leaning more toward the 200 meters seeing that we already have the 400 meters title,” Miller-Uibo told the Bahamas Guardian.

“We wanted to do both – I wanted to go after the 200 metres title and also wanted to defend my 400 meters title, but the way the schedule is set up, it would be difficult to do both. It’s been that way for a few years now. When they didn’t change the schedule, we had to make some decisions and right now, we’re leaning toward the 200. Nothing is finalized as yet, but that’s the way it is right now.”

Only three athletes have ever won the 200/400m double at the Olympic Games – Johnson and Perec and Valerie Brisco-Hooks.

Winning three All-American awards has helped take the edge off a frustrating end to the 2019/2020 NCAA athletics season for University of Texas sophomore Julien Alfred.

St Lucia’s Julien Alfred said she wanted to go faster but was generally pleased with her performances at the Razorback Invitational at the Randall Tyson Track Centre at Fayetteville, Arkansas on the weekend.

St Lucian teen sensation Julien Alfred raced to fast times at the Dr Martin Luther King Collegiate Invitational in Albuquerque, New Mexico this weekend.

Being healthy during the preseason for the first time in the past few seasons was a key factor behind Danielle Williams’ indoor personal best at the Clemson Invitational in South Carolina on Saturday.

Two-time Olympic 100m champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce says she is targeting dipping under 22 seconds for the 200m next season as she eyes the sprint double at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.

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