Shelly-Ann Fraser Pryce stands about 11 seconds from the brink of history later on Saturday as the Jamaican sprint icon hopes to become the first woman in history to secure a hat-trick of Olympic individual titles in the same event.
It is easier said than done, of course, but Fraser-Pryce won her semi-final with a flourish in 10.88 and with all her experience will start favourite, although threats lie from various angles in what is shaping up as classic tussle.
In the opening semi-final, Tori Bowie recovered from a sluggish start to book her spot in the final alongside Trinidad and Tobago’s Michelle-Lee Ahye.
The pair both recorded 10.90, which for the latter was a season’s best, to show their hand ahead of the final. And should world bronze medallist Bowie make a quicker start when it really counts, she looks a real danger.
In slightly chilly conditions, far from ideal for sprinters, it was Murielle Ahoure of the Ivory Coast with her trademark quick start who made the early running with Ukraine’s Olesya Povkh from lane two also prominent. Bowie, meanwhile, was out the back with much to do.
By 60 metres, Ahye loomed up alongside Ahoure before taking control of the race only for Bowie hit her stride and, with a late burst, edge Ahye for the win.
Jamaica’s Christania Williams finished strongly from the outside lane nine to chip 0.01 from her lifetime best to record 10.96 for third and later book a spot in the final as one of the two fastest non-automatic qualifiers. The fading Ahoure grabbed fourth in 11.01.
The home crowd raised their approval for Brazilian favourite Rosangela Santos at the start of the second semi-final but, in truth, the 2007 world U18 100m silver medallist was never in the mix, finishing fifth in 11.23.
Season's best for Fraser-Pryce
From the gun, it was the two-time Olympic champion Fraser-Pryce who showed all her class with a reliably slick start, with rising star Marie-Josee Ta Lou of the Ivory Coast also out of the blocks quickly.
With Fraser-Pryce dictating the race, Dafne Schippers came with her customary late surge but could not close down Fraser-Pryce, who stopped the clock in a season’s best of 10.88 and 0.02 clear of the imposing Dutchwoman.
The principal duo both grabbed a qualification spot by right and they are to be joined in the final by Ta Lou, who qualified as one of the two fastest athletes on time courtesy of a PB of 10.94.
However, there was disappointment for USA’s world long jump champion Tianna Bartoletta who missed out on the final after running 11.00 for fourth.
The final heat served up, arguably, the most impressive qualifier as Elaine Thompson flew to victory, easing down in 10.88 to win by 0.02 from USA’s English Gardner.
The long-striding Thompson, who last year came to prominence when taking the world 200m silver medal, got away quickly alongside Great Britain’s Desiree Henry. By 60 metres, Thompson had clear daylight on her rivals before easing off the accelerator for the final phase of the race.
US champion Gardner, with her familiar rocking style, finished strongly to claim the second automatic qualifier.
Nigeria’s Blessing Okagbare and Henry flashed past the line in an identical time of 11.09 – with Okagbare awarded third – but neither athlete will play any part in the final.
Steve Landells for the IAAF