Defending champion Elaine Thompson-Herah of Jamaica kicked off her audacious bid for an unprecedented Olympic women's sprint "double-double" by advancing to the 200-meter semifinals Monday.
Thompson-Herah, who outgunned teammate Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce to seal back-to-back 100-meter golds on Saturday, finished third in her 200-meter heat that was won by Canadian Emmanuel Crystal in 22.74 seconds.
Fraser-Pryce also progressed, but 100-meter bronze medalist Shericka Jackson, also of Jamaica, failed to make it through after inexplicably slowing with 40 meters to run.
Christine Nboma of Namibia clocked the fastest time, 22.11 seconds, to finish her heat ahead of red-hot U.S. favorite Gabby Thomas, who was reveling in her Olympic experience.
"Everything felt completely normal this morning, it felt like a regular race, a regular day," said Thomas, who became the second fastest woman in history over 200-meter when she clocked a world-leading 21.61 seconds at the U.S. trials in Eugene, Oregon, in June.
"But as soon as I opened the curtains and walked out to the stadium it was unreal. Even without the fans you can feel the energy.
"I was shaking. Until the gun went off my heart was racing, but once the gun went off it was a lot of fun."
Thomas admitted that her focus had changed since winning the U.S. trials.
"My goals shifted after running that time, from being on the Olympic team to wanting to be a gold medalist," said the 24-year-old Harvard graduate.
"I know that nothing is given, I have to earn that spot.
"That's the beauty of track and field, the beauty of the Olympic championships," she said, calling the Tokyo heat and humidity "pretty brutal."
Also tough, Thomas added, was the depth of competition, albeit in the absence of injured world champion Dina Asher-Smith of Britain.
"I thought I was going to be able to practice my curve, get out and focus on execution and … it's not the case!"
Also going through was Shaunae Miller-Uibo of the Bahamas, who has stepped down from the 400 meters to concentrate on the 200 meters.
She looked very comfortable in her heat won by Ivorian Marie-Josee Ta Lou in 22.30.
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