Last summer, Elaine Thompson swept the 100 and 200-meter sprints in Rio, becoming the first female sprinter (and the first Jamaican ever) to accomplish this milestone since 1988.
The distance she traveled in Rio should not only be measured in meters, but in years of work. Growing up, Thompson ran for two community high schools in the small rural town of Banana Ground in the hills of Manchester Parish, Jamaica. Though she never earned the podium at any race during those four years, she believed herself to be a true sprinting talent. She was recruited by Jamaica’s University of Technology where she continued to improve as a running talent. But her true abilities would not be apparent until 2015, when she ran a 10.97 100-meter race and won the international field.
The challenge to prove her abilities did not dissolve her resolve — a big reason why much of her success can be attributed to her attitude toward persevering: “Just because you come in second or third in a race, doesn’t mean you are a loser — you are still a winner on the inside,” she says. “And even when you become a champion, you still need to work hard to achieve even more.”
Thompson says she is motivated by her peers, and especially her training partner, fellow Jamaican gold medalist Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who has played a crucial role in Thompson’s development into the confident, winning athlete she is today. “She always tells me to never let anyone stop me from becoming the person I want to be,” says Thompson. (Fraser-Pryce also helped Thompson to dial in her focus during the critical finals in Rio: “She told me that we need to run our own race and stay in our own lane,” says Thompson.)
Understanding the importance of having athletes to look up to, Thompson says she wants to leave a legacy that inspires younger female athletes to follow their dreams. “I want others to know they can do it too,” she says. Part of her effort to share her story and impact young women in sport is depicted in the new Nike Beautiful X Powerful Collection (the second Nike footwear collection inspired by female athletes and their boundary-breaking accomplishments) that celebrates Thompson’s hard work, dedication and victories.
The assortment includes five Nike footwear icons in crisp, white perforated leather with hints of gold. Each shoe is also embellished with Elaine’s signature, her mantra “one life, one chance” and her winning times of 21:78 for 200 meters and 10:71 for 100 meters.
The Nike Beautiful X Powerful Collection is available June 1 via the SNKRS App and at retailers worldwide.
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