TOKYO, Japan – It’s been a long five years for Bahamian hurdler Devynne Charlton, qualifying for the 2016 Olympics but not being able to compete because of injury, and then getting back to the Olympic stage this year, and it all coming to fruition as she finished sixth in the final of the women’s 100 meters (m) hurdles on Monday.
Charlton crossed the finish line in 12.74 seconds inside the Japan National Stadium at the Tokyo Olympic Games here in Tokyo, Japan.
The Bahamian national record holder and multi national champion appeared a bit disappointed that she missed out on a medal, but after coming into these Olympics tied at number 11 on the world’s top performance list for 2021 and going into the final with the seventh-fastest qualifying time out of the semis, Charlton proved that she is among the top hurdlers in the world, powering to the final and securing a sixth place finish on Monday.
She ran 12.66 seconds in the semifinals, and qualified out of the first round in 12.84.
“I felt pretty good going into it, but I didn’t feel like the execution was there like how it was in the semis,” said Charlton. “I gave it what I had today, and I’m proud of that much. Dealing with the heat out there, it was really draining, and it showed in the times, but that is something that comes with the territory and it’s just something that you have to deal with.”
With the race held at an usual time for a final, 11:50 midday, Charlton said the heat presented a challenge, but she was just focused on her race and what she needed to do.
For The Bahamas, it’s the second straight Olympics in which a Bahamian advanced to the final of the women’s 100m hurdles. Coincidentally, Pedrya Seymour was sixth at the Olympics as well, finishing in 12.76 seconds in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 2016.
Seymour didn’t fare as well at these Olympics, bowing out in the semifinals. She finished eighth in her semifinal heat and was 22nd overall in 13.09 seconds after running 13.04 seconds in her opening round heat.
“I’m disappointed, however I trust God and believe that what’s coming next for me will be great,” said Seymour. “I am so proud of Devynne for fighting. I’ve worked extremely hard this season and I’ve made a lot of sacrifices so right now I don’t have that much to say. All I can say is, even though things are blurry in my career right now, I still trust God.”
Charlton qualified for the Olympics five years ago, but was forced to sit out with a back injury. Now healthy, she’s thankful that she was able to advance to the rounds and represent The Bahamas in the final.
“There was a lot of ups and downs over the last five years to get to this point. I wondered a lot if I would have been in the final in Rio, but what I did here in Tokyo will allow me to put that behind me. That’s all that matters now. I made it here and just have to build off this,” she said. “I wanted to be on the podium, so that’s disappointing, but it’s my first time around so I’m satisfied. I have three years to build off this performance. I’m just thankful for all the support and to all the Bahamian people for being behind me all of the way.”
Charlton had a progressive season, running a personal best national record of 12.61 seconds this year, erasing Seymour’s national record of 12.64 seconds that was done in the semifinals of the 100m hurdles at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
Both made history for The Bahamas this year, becoming the first duo to qualify for the semifinals of any hurdles event at a single Olympic Games.
“We all have a story and we all work hard. I don’t think anyone outworks anyone. We all work hard. I’m just so proud of Devynne, This was her time and I’m proud of her,” said Seymour.
Jasmine Camacho-Quinn won Puerto Rico’s second ever Olympic gold medal, crossing the finish line in 12.37 seconds. She ran a huge personal best, national record time of 12.26 seconds in her semifinal heat. It was a new Olympic record for her, and goes down as the joint sixth-fastest time in history.
World record holder Kendra Harrison, of the United States, was second in the Olympic final on Monday, running 12.52 seconds. Jamaican Megan Tapper won the bronze medal, crossing the finish line in 12.55 seconds.
Both Charlton and Seymour are still very young, 25 and 26 respectively, and both will still be in the their prime years when the next Olympics are held in three years time – July 26 to August 11, 2024, in Paris France.