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‘Flo Jo’s’ 1988 Olympic record broken with a time of 10.61 seconds

Originally published on Global Voices

Flag of Jamaica; public domain via Wikimedia Commons

After a somewhat anxious week as a COVID-19 “third wave” appeared to be gaining momentum, the Tokyo Olympics were a welcome distraction for many Jamaicans feeling oppressed by tightened curfew hours. Jamaicans’ interest became more focused, with patriotic fervor rising, and when the track events began, Twitter came alive.

As sports fans set their alarms for the events on Saturday morning Jamaica time, many prepared in advance with the appropriate gear.

Public relations practitioner Jean Lowrie-Chin, who would normally be waving the Jamaican flag in person at Olympics events, dressed accordingly, wishing she were there this time:

Her husband Hubie was ready to make some noise with the “Dutch pot” covers—a traditional Jamaican way to celebrate:

Retired Jamaican sprinting icon Usain Bolt’s absence in Tokyo had been duly noted in the international press, but this time there were high hopes for the women. These hopes were realized when Elaine Thompson-Herah, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Shericka Jackson raced across the finish line in first, second, and third places in the Women’s 100 meter final on July 31.

Moreover, Thompson-Herah broke American sprinter Florence Griffith-Joyner (Flo Jo’s) 1988 Olympic record with a time of 10.61 seconds, making her the second-fastest woman ever:

Thompson-Herah herself, who like Bolt hails from rural Jamaica, tweeted:

In a high-spirited video shared by the Jamaica Gleaner, Thompson-Herah’s grandmother celebrated the victory (complete with biblical references) from her living room, and was already anticipating a win in the 200-meter race, which her granddaughter will be competing in:

Thompson-Herah’s father and friends celebrated raucously at his barbershop in the mid-island town of Mandeville, while one young man quietly waited for his haircut:

An exuberant Usain Bolt and a few friends tweeted an impromptu dance party in honor of the women. He was at home in Jamaica (the proud father of newborn twins):

Prime Minister Andrew Holness reacted proudly on Twitter:

Sports Minister Olivia “Babsy” Grange tweeted from Tokyo:

A Jamaican sports journalist in Tokyo underlined the women’s achievement:

Economist and commentator Damien King found himself speechless, for once:

Having recovered, King had done some calculations:

The highly touted young American sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson, who was removed from the U.S. team after testing positive for marijuana, tweeted in solidarity with the Jamaican trio after announcing her intention to host an Instagram Live session:

On a style note, the wearing of colorful wigs once again made an impact. Silver medal winner and former Olympic champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce is famous for hers—and for the final, turned up in a vibrant gold wig. One Jamaican quipped:

The sprinters’ style met with approval generally:

Meanwhile, as Jamaicans bathed in the afterglow of the “one, two, three” win, vaccination centres across the island were opening. On the previous afternoon, 300,000 doses had arrived from the UK, ending a worrying vaccine “drought,” and were immediately dispatched to centres across the island. The Ministry of Health and Wellness aims to have 150,000 Jamaicans vaccinated in a week. One government minister observed:

In a charming pictorial thread, cultural commentator Wayne Chen noted:

And a Jamaican graphic designer on Twitter shared his depiction of Thompson-Herah gently lifting the “sprint queen” crown from Fraser-Pryce’s head:

Sandals International Resorts jumped on board with a reward for the three young women:

Usain Bolt himself summed it up succinctly in a tweet:

As Jamaicans prepare to celebrate Emancipation Day on Sunday, August 1 and the national holiday on Monday, perhaps there will be more excitement in store. Meanwhile, the euphoria will take a while to quieten down. There is a feeling in Jamaica that it is time for some good news.

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