Wyomia Tyus fait valser les records du monde de sprint

The women's 100m was a particularly competitive event, led by three excellent athletes from the United States. In the first round each of them – Wyomia Tyus, Barbara Ferrell and Margaret Bailes – equalled the Olympic record with times of 11.2secs.

In the first round, the three American athletes all equalled the Olympic Record of 11.12secs, setting the scene for a scintillating competition. The World Record of 11.11secs was tied by Ferrell and Bailes while Tyus set a wind-assisted time of 11.0secs. The bar had been raised even higher.

Even though the wind had rendered her time illegible, Tyus was now the favourite, not least because she arrived in Mexico with the strongest pedigree.

Tyus had won gold in the 100m in Tokyo four years previously, as well as a silver in the 4x100m relay. Her challenge was to be the first athlete – man or woman – to successfully defend an Olympic 100m title.

The semi-finals were held in rainy conditions, so the times were slower, but all the favourite made it through. The final included four of the five athletes who now jointly held the world mark but the record was destined to tumble once more. Tyus made a false-start, but recovered her composure to run a world record time of 11.08secs to retain her title and so – unprecedentedly – retain the Olympic sprint title.

Ferrell took silver in 11.15secs but the third American, Bailes, missed out on a medal as she came home in fifth position. Instead, the bronze medal went to Poland's Irena Szewińska-Kirszenstein.

Tyus finished sixth in the 200m but returned to the top of the podium as part of America's 4x100m relay team. Running the anchor leg, she led her team to victory in a world record time.

Tyus retired from amateur competition after the 1968 Games. She returned to competition as a professional five years later, almost immediately regaining her pre-eminent status.


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