Time and Date of Women’s 100m Final: 22:35 BRT (13 AUG) / 03:35 CEST (14 AUG)
Defending Olympic Champion from London 2012: Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce
I’m starting off this series of predicting the Olympic gold medalists in some of my favourite events with what is undeniably one of the toughest races to call this year. 2016 seems to be one of the best years for women’s sprinting on record. Six of the athletes have already dipped under 10.90 s and three of them went under 10.80 s – if I’m not mistaken, it’s the first time that that’s ever happened.
Who are the main contenders?
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (Jamaica). She’s currently 8th in the world rankings for 2016 with a time of 10.93 s, but – as with her compatriot, Usain Bolt – we can expect her to be at the top of her game when it really counts. The strongest part of the race is her start, but this year she’ll have some serious competition breathing down her neck in the latter parts of the race. Like Bolt, she has won the 100m gold in the last two Olympics, but no one in history managed to win it three times. Don’t count her out, but she’s not my pick to win it.
Murielle Ahouré (Ivory Coast). She’s one of those athletes that’s always in the top 10 or in the final, but never seems to perform when it really matters. She’s a great sprinter and I expect her to be in the mix, but not to medal.
Tianna Bartoletta (USA). A long jumper that’s also a sprinter. We’ve heard that one before, but Tianna is a special case because she has extra speed that we normally wouldn’t expect even from a long jumper. But while do I expect her to be in the final, I don’t think she has what it takes to win it or even to medal.
Tori Bowie (USA). She was behind Tianna in the US Trials (albeit with a same time of 10.78 s), but I believe she’ll do better at the Olympics. She has bronze from 2015 World Champs and that’s probably a valuable experience to have going into Rio. Watch her, but don’t be surprised if she doesn’t medal.
English Gardner (USA). The fastest American of 2016 with a time of 10.74 s. The second fastest in the world this year. Those two facts naturally make her one of the clear favourites. She seems strong mentally and she always runs with fierce determination in her eyes. But I never liked her running style. She looks so raw and stiff, but the times seem to confirm the old saying of ‘if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it.’ I seriously wanted to pick her as my winner, but something pulled me in another direction. She’ll be a big threat though.
Dafne Schippers (Netherlands). Europe’s only hope against the US and Caribbean athletes. She’s my sentimental favourite, but I simply cannot pick her to win it because I firmly believe that the 200m is her better event. She won the 100m silver at the last year’s World Championships (behind Fraser-Pryce), but I suspect the competition will be much tougher in Rio. Her speed in the last 30 m is probably the best or at least close to being the best in the world, but the start is her Achilles’ heel. She said she’s been working on it, but from what I’ve seen this year, it’s still not good enough. I give her about a 50 % chance of winning the medal and a 10 % of winning the gold.
Elaine Thompson (Jamaica). Last year at the Beijing World Championships she made her breakthrough when she won silver in the 200m with a time of 21.66 s. She’s just 24, but she seems like every coach’s dream as her sprinting form is pretty much perfect. She’s leading the world rankings this year with a blazing time of 10.70 s set at Jamaica’s Olympic trials in Kingston and she seems to be in perfect shape to go the distance. And I think she will. She’s my pick to win it.