Elaine Thompson-Herah: Five things you didn’t know about the double Olympic champion 

She'll be defending two Olympic titles at Tokyo 2020, but Jamaica's Elaine Thompson-Herah was far from a sports star growing up.
By Andrew Binner

Unlike so many of her Jamaican athletics teammates, Elaine Thompson was not a sprinting prodigy at school.

But through a combination of top-class scouting, a highly disciplined and religious family and a relentless work ethic, she became one of her country's finest ever products.

Calf and Achilles injuries have prevented her from being able to replicate the kind of form that saw her win 100m and 200m gold at the Rio 2016 Olympics. Her failure to reach the podium at the last two world championships has meant the doubters' voices growing.

But the girl from a rural Jamaican parish is used to being the underdog, and thrives in such situations. With that in mind, here are five things you may not know about the first woman in 28 years to capture gold in the 100m and 200m at the same Olympics.

1 - A love of cartoons developed her early speed

Unlike so many of her contemporaries in elite athletics, Thompson-Herah does not hail from a sporty family, and was anything but a high-school prodigy.

Her best performance at the iconic Jamaican High School Championships - the breeding ground of fellow Olympic champions Usain Bolt, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Yohan Blake - was fourth place in class two of the 100m in 2009.

Her father did not encourage her participation in track and field, and the rebellious youngster was once left off her high school team due to unruly behaviour!

Perhaps the credit for first making Elaine run should go to grandmother Hycenth, whose chores inadvertently began her road to Olympic gold...

"I used to memorise what my grandma told me to get, so I sprinted to the shops," she told World Athletics. "I then used to sprint back as fast as I could to watch cartoons and movies. As soon as I was sat in front of the TV, I did not want to move again."

2 - Transformed by tough love

There would likely have never been any Olympic gold, if it wasn’t for some stern words from her career-long coach Stephen Francis, who took a gamble on her talent.

Before her international breakthrough in 2015, Thompson was training and performing below her potential as he saw it.

"I don’t know what it was but Stephen saw something in me that I did not see,” Thompson-Herah told World Athletics.

“He told me I could do better in training and that I was not producing the times on the track that I should be. He told me not to be scared of people, be less serious, smile more and shake it up."

And shake it up she did. That year she lowered her 100m personal best by a whopping 0.24 seconds, made her major championship debut at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, and the rest as they say, is history.

Elaine Thompson arrives in Australia for the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

3 - Cooking connoisseur

Few things are as important to athletes as their nutrition, but who says that eating healthy has to be boring? Certainly not Elaine Thompson-Herah.

She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Food Service Management and Culinary Arts, and unsurprisingly, her favourite dishes pack some serious Caribbean flavour.

Yellow yam, the vegetable that Bolt has previously attributed as a key component of Jamaica’s sprinting achievements is a staple of Thompson-Herah's, as is island favourite chicken, rice and peas.

National dish ackee and saltfish is another regular dish of the athlete’s, while her doting grandmother makes soursop juice - a refreshing pineapple, berry and citrus drink - every time she returns to their Banana Ground home.

4 - Omar McLoed sung at her wedding

There was a distinct Olympic theme at Thompson's wedding to Derron Herah in 2019, with fellow Olympic champion Omar McLeod singing a rendition of Ed Sheeran's Perfect for the couple.

The hurdler describes Thompson-Herah as his 'sister from another mister' during the service.

5 - Elaine Thompson-Herah: Fashion fanatic

Thompson-Herah likes to experiment with a variation of brightly-coloured hair styles, and her inspiration was teammate and mentor Fraser-Pryce - who famously likes to wear variations of Jamaica's yellow, black and green colours in her hair.

"I try to up-style from her, not just to be exactly like her," she told World Athletics.

"I like to be neat, and glamorous, and this is just me. A neat person."

Beyond the track, she also relishes any opportunity to switch her training gear for something a little more elegant

"I think this is one thing Jamaica would find surprising about me, that I like to dress up," Thompson-Herah, who has even brought out her own fashion lines told Jamaica Gleaner.