Olympic champions Elaine Thompson-Herah and Ryan Crouser are NACAC Athletes of the Year

By Sports Desk November 07, 2021

Jamaica’s Olympic 100m and 200m champion, Elaine Thompson-Herah and the USA’s Ryan Crouser have been named 2021 Female and Male Athletes of the Year for the North American, Central American and Caribbean Athletics Association.

The 29-year-old Thompson-Herah truly captured the public imagination in 2021. The double sprint champion from the 2016 Olympics in Rio, the Jamaican turned in performances the likes of which have not been seen since at least four years before her birth.

Her 2021 season will go down in history as perhaps the greatest of all time. Within the span of just over three weeks, between the end of July and late August, she won two individual gold medals at the Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.

Her 100m win came in an Olympic record time of 10.61 while her 200m victory four days later yielded a national record of 21.53 seconds. It was also the second-fastest time in history.

Shortly after her double Olympic triumph, which she topped off by winning sprint relay gold with Jamaica, Thompson-Herah lined up at the Prefontaine Classic at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon, USA and stamped her class with a run of 10.54 seconds, a new national record, and like her 200m Olympic win, was the fastest time in the world since Florence Griffith-Joyner’s world record in 1988.

Thompson-Herah would go on to take her third Diamond League title, winning the women’s 100m final in Zürich with a time of 10.65 seconds.

Only five women this century have ended a season with the fastest times in both the 100m and 200m. Coming into the season, four of those five were Jamaican. And this season, Thompson-Herah became the first woman ever to repeat that feat following her 2016 success.

Along the way, Thompson-Herah went under the 10.80-second barrier 15 times. Only her compatriot Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, has more. However, Thompson-Herah is the queen of sub-10.70 runs, with four, one more than Flo Jo.

Thompson-Herah, Fraser-Pryce, and Shericka Jackson completed the Tokyo women’s 100m medal podium, and the three Jamaicans have combined for 34 runs under 11 seconds this year.

Crouser set the men’s shot put standard indoors and out this past season.

The 28-year-old American champion won gold at the Tokyo Olympics as well as the Diamond League trophy.

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    Inside the National Stadium in Kingston, the well-chiselled McLeod exploded at the 250m mark and pulled away from the field to win handsomely in 50.58. In her devastating wake were the Sprintec pair of Tiffany James and Ashley Williams, who ran 52.10 and 53.40 for second and third, respectively.

    McLeod’s winning time was the third-fastest by a Jamaican woman behind Charokee Young (49.87) and Stacey-Ann Williams (50.21).

    Surprisingly, she was pleased but not overly impressed with the performance.

     “I feel okay but I feel like I have a little more (to give). I feel like I was just working on what we have been working on in training,” she said following the victory.

    The new race plan that she and coach Fitz Coleman has been putting together is intended to take her to the next level because despite running a massive personal best of 49.51 at the Olympics last summer, McLeod feels as if she needs to suffer to get the best out of her body.

    “Honestly, even when I ran 49.5, I never felt like I gave it my all. I didn’t feel the leg pain, the headaches and whatever so I feel like I didn’t do enough,” she explained.

    “I have always wanted to feel at my maximum regardless of what it feels like. I want to feel like I am dying so I felt like I needed to switch it up a bit to get that dying feeling. Today wasn’t bad, it still wasn’t there but it’s getting there.”

    That plan has been coming together since the outdoor season began earlier this year when she opened with 51.78 at the MVP Velocity Fest meet in Kingston on April 2 before flying off to Bermuda where in extremely windy conditions on April 9, she clocked a solid 51.57. She was second in both races to the 2019 World Championship 400m bronze medallist Shericka Jackson.

    The University of the West Indies accounting graduate followed up on April 23 with what was then a season-best 51.20 in Kingston.

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    She expressed confidence that most, if not everything, will fall into place by the time Jamaica’s National Championships roll around in late June when she believes a new lifetime best is probable as she heads into the World Championships in Oregon just over two weeks later.

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    “I am very confident in my preparation, my conditioning and everything. I love competition. It’s all fun for me because I love what I do, so regardless, competition or not, I am here for it,” she said.

     

     

     

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    Reigning Olympic bronze medallist in the Women’s 100m Shericka Jackson narrowly finished second in the Women’s blue-ribband event, running 11.12 to finish behind British 2019 200m World champion Dina Asher-Smith (11.11). Asher-Smith’s countrywoman Daryll Neita was third in 11.14.

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