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Olympic Games 2008: Jamaica sweeps women's 100m event

17 August 2008

Shelly-Ann Fraser Shelly-Ann Fraser
By Eddie Pells

When it comes to these Olympic sprints, the Jamaicans jam.

In a sweep that will trigger yet another celebration back on the Caribbean island, Shelly-Ann Fraser won the gold and Sherone Simpson and Kerron Stewart finished in a dead heat for the silver in the women's 100-meter dash Sunday.

Counting Usain Bolt's world-record win the night before, that makes it two golds and two silvers for a country that had never won gold in an Olympic 100 meters before this year.

Yeah, mon.

Fraser pumped her fist as she finished in 10.78 seconds and her teammates finished 0.20 second back — the same margin Bolt won by the night before when he hot-dogged to the finish in 9.69. He was at the Bird's Nest, too, for his gold-medal ceremony before the women's race.

Fraser knew she had won and smiled wide, showing those braces, and then went to pick up the green, yellow and black Jamaican flag.

Reggae music played in the background during a three-minute delay while judges looked at the photo finish. There was no way to split the difference, so Jamaica got the top three spots and didn't even have to settle for a bronze.

As impressive a tradition of stellar sprinting as Jamaica has, the Caribbean island of about 2.8 million people never had won an Olympic gold in the 100 until this weekend. Now they have two.

"It's about time," Stewart said when asked what the sweep meant. "We've been waiting on this. So many great athletes have come so close."

Jamaica's big win turned into a giant disappointment for the United States. Lauryn Williams finished fourth, Muna Lee fifth and Torri Edwards last. Lee, the only one of that U.S. trio with another chance for an individual medal — in the 200 — said she thought there was a false start.

"I didn't know if they were going to call it," Lee said. "I should have just ran. That's my fault."

Even that might not have made a difference.

The Jamaicans are just that good.

They now own the first Olympic 100-meter sweep, men's or women's, since 1912. Making it even more impressive is that the woman widely considered Jamaica's best at this distance, defending world champion Veronica Campbell-Brown, wasn't even in the field, after failing to qualify at the country's Olympic trials.

Her spot essentially went to Fraser, the least accomplished of the Jamaican sprinters — at least until now. She is only 21 — same age as Bolt — and didn't have a time under 11 seconds before this year. The highlight on her resume before now was the silver medal she won as part of the Jamaican relay team at last year's world championships.

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