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Not much was expected in terms of exciting track and field in a week with no Diamond League meets on the calendar, but the stars of the sport exceeded expectations with fast times and strong marks coming from the Ostrava Golden Spike on Thursday and the Jamaican National Championships over the weekend.
Here were the top performers:
Elaine Thompson Emerges Again As World’s Top Female Sprinter
The reigning 100m/200m Olympic champion won the Jamaican Championships 100m by walking down a fast-starting Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and nipping her at the line in a world-leading 10.73. It was a photo finish between the two, with Thompson just eking it out by three-thousandths of a second.
Elaine Thompson WL 10.73🔥seconds Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce 2nd in 10.73🔥 and 17/yo Briana Williams 3rd in 10.94🔥 NJR women's 100m final.— 🇦 🇹 🇭 🇱 🇪 🇹 🇮 🇨 🇸 (@AthleticsGif) June 22, 2019
🇯🇲JAAA National Senior& Junior Championships 2019@FastElaine @realshellyannfp @brianastarr21 @AtoBoldon @lsabre_Avenger @watchathletics pic.twitter.com/wa0c4ZPmh1
The victory was the 26-year-old’s fourth-straight 100m title at her national championships, and her fastest mark since she ran 10.71 two years ago in Kingston.
Thompson then came back on Sunday and beat Fraser-Pryce in the 200m in 22.00 to 22.22, another world-leading time for the Jamaican. Like the 100m, the clocking was also her fastest since 2017.
🌎 leading 200m for Elaine Thompson in Kingston to claim the Sprint double 22 even pic.twitter.com/9Bni0tc5wT— THE DON CARLOS (@doncarlostheone) June 24, 2019
For a woman who was just fifth in the 2017 World Championships 100m a year after sweeping 100m and 200m Olympic gold in Rio, Thompson’s performance in Kingston represents a return to the top of the sprint world after two down years in 2017 and 2018. Injuries limited her in both seasons, and this weekend was a reminder of what Thompson is capable of without her body holding her back.
She has a quick turnaround to test 200m chops again, as Thompson will race Dina Asher-Smith and Tori Bowie at the Pre Classic on Sunday.
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce Runs Her Fastest 100m Since 2013
While the 32-year-old was caught at the line by Thompson, Fraser-Pryce’s 10.73 performance was perhaps even more significant than that of her younger rival as it was the fastest the two-time Olympic champion has run since 2013. SAFP has had plenty of success since then— she won the 100m world title in 2015 and took bronze in Rio— but after missing all of 2017 with the birth of her child and then breaking 11 seconds just once in 2018, her status as a gold medal threat was in doubt.
Not anymore, as Fraser-Pryce looks to be on the cusp of a career resurgence. This race sets off what should be a fun summer and fall in the women’s 100m as now three women have run 10.75 or faster already this season. Reigning world champion Tori Bowie (10.78 PB) and breakout star Sha’Carri Richardson— who set the 10.75 collegiate record at NCAAs— each have their work cut out for them against the Jamaicans.
Friday’s result was the first time two women have run under 10.75 in one race. Next up for Fraser-Pryce is a matchup with Richardson in the Pre 100m.
Another Teen Sensation Arrives: 17-Year-Old Max Burgin Is GB’s Top Half-Miler In 2019
The fastest 800m by a Brit so far in 2019 belongs to 17-year-old Max Burgin, who reorganized many a record book on Sunday with his 1:45.36 victory at the British U20 Championships in Bedford, England. With it Burgin broke the 33-year-old British U20 record (1:45.64) and slotted himself second in European junior history behind only Olympic champion Yuriy Borzakovskiy.
Incredible run from 17-year-old Max Burgin today in the 800m at the @EnglandAthletic U20 Champs.— Jon Mulkeen (@Statman_Jon) June 23, 2019
His 1:45.36 is:
✅ UK U20 record
✅ European U18 best
✅ 2019 senior UK lead
✅ World Champs qualifier
✅ faster than the winning times at this year's Stockholm, Oslo & Rabat DLs
Burgin, who notched a 2019 IAAF standard as well, moved up to seventh on the world U18 800m list. While the time in Bedford represented a big improvement on his previous 1:46.80 best that he set last week, this sort of performance has been a long time coming for the teen. Burgin ran 1:47.50 at 15, and he won the European U18 title last summer as well.
For perspective on just how superior Burgin is to his peers, the fastest 800m performance by a U.S. high schooler this season is 1:49.69. His runner-up on Sunday, Ben Pattison in 1:46.71, is now the second-fastest U18 athlete in 2019.
Briana Williams Breaks Candace Hill’s 100m High School Record
Candace Hill’s 10.98 100m high school national record is no more, as Florida high school junior Briana Williams, who competes internationally for Jamaica, ran 10.94 on Friday at the Jamaican Championships. The 17-year-old finished third behind Elaine Thompson and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce in their crazy fast 10.73 dual.
What a Night for these 3 Ladies 😍🇯🇲— 🇯 🇺 🇸 🇹 🇸🇵🇴🇷🇹🇸 (@JustSportsTweet) June 22, 2019
🏃🏾♀️Elaine Thompson WL 10.726🔥
🏃🏾♀️Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce 10.729🔥
🏃🏾♀️17 y/o Briana Williams 3rd in 10.94🔥 NJR, U18 Record
(📸: Athelstan Gilbert Bellamy) pic.twitter.com/HzYz3M9COl
Williams, the 2018 World junior 100m and 200m champion, knocked on the sub-11 door on two occasions this season before busting it down while chasing Thompson and Fraser-Pryce. Williams ran 11.02 at the Great Southwest Classic on June 9 before lowering that to 11.01 in the Jamaican prelims. Her 10.94 usurped Hill’s mark from 2015, and tied the precocious prep with Dina Asher-Smith for fourth in the world this season.
Andre De Grasse Appears To Be Back
Like it was for Thompson and Fraser-Pryce in Jamaica, Andre De Grasse’s 19.91 200m victory in Ostrava was a blast from the past performance: the injury-plagued Canadian ran his first sub-20 since 2016 on Thursday in the Czech Republic, all while beating 100m world leader Christian Coleman in a thrilling race.
58th Ostrava Golden Spike. Men's 200m. Wind -0.6— Miska (@M1ZKA) June 20, 2019
1. Andre De Grasse 🇨🇦 19.91 SB
2. Christian Coleman 🇺🇸 19.97 SB
3. Clarence Munyai 🇿🇦 20.31 SB
4. Pavel Maslak 🇨🇿 20.62 SB
5. Brendon Rodney 🇨🇦 20.65#IAAF #WorldChallenge @JustSportsTweet pic.twitter.com/VAP9jVAAlw
In a 200m event that is extremely top heavy-- Noah Lyles (19.65 PB) is the massive World Championships favorite so long as Michael Norman does not compete-- De Grasse has a ways to go to be considered a legitimate threat for gold in Doha. But if the hamstring issues that stalled his progression in 2017 and 2018 are no more, the 24-year-old De Grasse no doubt could develop into Lyles’ chief rival in the 200m. Remember, this is the same man who was a three-time global medalist before his 22nd birthday.
Shaunae Miller-Uibo Smashes 300m World Best
I’m usually pretty meh when it comes to records in non-championship distances, i.e. 300m, 500m, 600m, etc., but I can make an exception for Olympic champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo’s 34.41 300m in Ostrava. Not only did the time absolutely obliterate the previous 300m world best of 35.30 from 2003, but it is the second-fastest 300m period behind only Marita Koch’s 34.14 split from her 47.60 400m world record. The East German Koch’s performances have long been mired in doping suspicion, and Miller-Uibo’s proximity to such a time suggests that she could add some legitimacy to the top of the women’s 400m all-time list this season.
34.41 WORLD BEST for Shaunae Miller-Uibo!!!😱😱😱— FloTrack (@FloTrack) June 20, 2019
The 25-year-old has already run 49.05 this season, a massive world lead since April 27 and just .08 away from her 48.97 personal best. 47 seconds may still be a stretch-- only Koch and a similarly suspicious 1980s sprinter, Jarmila Kratochvílová, have gone that fast-- but a time in the low 48s seems possible for the Bahamian sprinter. At the very least, Sanya Richards-Ross’ 48.70, the fastest in the 21st century from 2006, is certain to topple at the rate Miller-Uibo is going.
Mariya Lasitskene Matches 2.06m PB, Remains Unbeatable
Authorized neutral athlete and Russian Mariya Lasitskene continued her dominant run in the women’s high jump with a 2.06m clearance in Ostrava, tying her personal best from 2017. The mark improved on Lasitskene's 2019 world lead and is tied for fifth-best in world history.
Only two other women have cleared 2.00m in 2019, and ironically, Lasitskene will not face either as she goes for her third straight world title in Doha.
Reigning Olympic and World heptathlon champion Nafissatou Thiam of Belgium jumped 2.02m on Saturday during a heptathlon competition at the Decastar meeting in France, improving on her hep. high jump world best. She will focus on her seven-event speciality at Worlds. Elsewhere, Lasitskene’s fellow Russian, Anna Chicherova, leapt 2.00m on June 11, but that is of little consequence considering that the former Olympic champ has not been granted neutral status to compete internationally. Russia continues to be banned by the IAAF for doping offenses.