Elaine Thompson-Herah
Source: INA FASSBENDER/AFP via Getty Images

Inside the Mind of Sprinter Elaine Thompson-Herah


Nov. 19 2023, Published 3:29 p.m. ET

In any high-pressure situation, mental toughness is often the difference between achieving success or failure. This toughness is made up of four elements. Perseverance and grit call for pushing yourself to do something regardless of the challenges along the way, without ever quitting. The element of passion requires you to want it more – success. Lastly, long-term goal orientation calls for you to set a series of short-term goals leading up to your ultimate long-term goal.

Elaine Thompson-Herah is the fastest woman alive! Here’s how she has used her mental toughness to ascend to the top of women’s athletics.

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Rising from Humble Beginnings

The fast-sprinting Jamaican native traces her roots to Manchester Parish’s Banana Ground – one of the country’s small and poor rural communities. Even at a young age, Thompson-Herah’s talent and determination shone through, even though she did not have access to the best training facilities.

The sprinter was even dropped from her school’s track and field team a couple of years after a dismal performance at the 2009 Jamaican Boys and Girls Championships.

Rio 2016 Glory

Elaine’s road to Olympic glory started when she announced herself on the international scene at the 2013 Central American and Caribbean Championships. Here she helped the Jamaican women’s 4X100 relay team secure gold.

She used this victory as a launching pad for greater success. Thompson-Herah cemented her place as a trendsetter in the world of women’s athletics with her immense performance at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. She demonstrated her tenacity and explosive speed on the world stage by winning the 100m and 200m races. This put her in the same league as Florence Griffith-Joyner – the only other woman to achieve this feat.

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The 2020 Double-Double

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics (held in 2021 due to the coronavirus) presented unique challenges to all involved. However, even with the unprecedented delays and other obstacles, Thompson-Herah was able to repeat her 2016 double, winning gold in the 100m and 200m races in Tokyo. The Jamaican sprinter became the first woman in Olympic history to achieve this feat.

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Injury Woes

The highly successful Jamaican sprinter has battled through various injuries throughout her athletic career. But, she has admitted that 2023 was by far one of the toughest seasons she has faced so far. For starters, physical injuries kept her sidelined for a large part of the season. Talking on Real Talk with Tee about missing out on the 100m and 200m races, the sprinter stated, “I was a little bit sad.”

Leaning on the mental toughness and speed, Thompson-Herah went on to finish the 2023 season on a high – setting a season’s best time of 10.84 seconds and winning the 100m race in Brussels.

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Chasing Down the World Record

Even at 31 years old Elaine Thompson-Herah is still not giving up on breaking the current women’s 100m world record. She stated, “My main aim is to target for the World Championship. I really want to break the world record” – during an interview with the BBC in 2022.

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