Last summer, 2 weeks earlier the Jamaican Olympic trials, Elaine Thompson-Herah's Achilles was hurting. Again.
The wounded had flared connected and disconnected for astir 5 years, ever since she did the 100m-200m treble astatine Rio 2016.
The latest bout of symptom was intense. And the doubts bubbled up fast. She feared, arsenic the tendon stayed tender, that she mightiness miss the trials, ending her rubric defence earlier it had begun.
As she rested and iced up her heel, she knew she had to hole thing other arsenic well.
"My caput was not successful the close place," she told BBC's All About podcast. "I had to alteration that speech successful my head."
Every morning, Thompson-Herah would wake, commune and work the bible. She started listening to a peculiar spiritual - Anywhere You Lead Me I Will Go by Nigerian gospel vocalist Mercy Chinwo - connected repeat.
Her religion successful God bolstered her religion successful herself. But if the meek inherit the earth, a small much swagger helps an Olympic rubric defence.
After each signifier session, she would scope for her phone, unfastened up the notes app and constitute down and work retired a bid of affirmations.
"I volition tally 10.5. I volition tally 21.5. I tin bash it. I americium a winner. I americium a champion," began the list.
"I volition beryllium the fastest pistillate alive. Say it, judge it, enactment for it and commune for it. I volition beryllium the treble Olympic champion. Today is my day. I americium the greatest," it ended.
"You constitute it down, you speech it, you accidental it, and people you volition believe," Thompson-Herah, 29, explained.
Plenty of others needed convincing arsenic well, though. Thompson-Herah had finished disconnected the 100m podium astatine the London 2017 and Doha 2019 World Championships. She hadn't made the 200m last astatine either.
In those Jamaican trials, she made the squad for Tokyo, but lone just. Thompson-Herah was 3rd successful the 100m. Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, the fastest pistillate live and the satellite champion, was good retired successful front. Shericka Jackson, usually a 400m specialist, besides finished up of Thompson-Herah.
But a period later, the country had shifted.
Thompson-Herah ran 10.71 - her fastest clip successful 4 years - successful her past contention earlier Tokyo. She past trotted to 10.82 seconds successful her archetypal 100m heat. She coasted to 10.76 successful her semi-final.
The affirmations were coming to pass. A spot among track's immortals awaited. If she could negociate the last hurdle.
"I was ace nervous, much than normal," Thompson-Herah said arsenic she remembered the nighttime of the 100m final. "I felt similar I was going to explode. I could not hold to get into my blocks and conscionable run.
"But archetypal they turned disconnected each the lights successful the stadium and started to present each the finalists. They introduced lane 2 and past lane three, but then, alternatively of maine successful lane four, they skipped maine and went to lane nine.
"I didn't cognize why. In the end, they near maine for last. Then determination was 2 seconds of soundlessness and we were called to our marks.
"I told myself I cannot alteration thing oregon hole anything. One past enactment and that was it."
Nothing needed fixing. She burst done the enactment astatine the different extremity of the consecutive and sucked successful the air, inactive Olympic champion and present the second-fastest pistillate of each time.
Only American fable Florence Griffith-Joyner had ever gone quicker than Thompson-Herah's winning 10.61 seconds.
And it could person been faster. It could person been adjacent person to the 10.49 satellite record. In the last 10 metres, alternatively of pushing for the line, Thompson-Herah raised her limb successful celebration.
"A cardinal times," she laughed erstwhile asked if she had watched the contention backmost since.
"I could person tally 10.5, if I was not celebrating. I didn't realise I'd done the pointing. I deliberation my assemblage knew I wanted to triumph truthful badly.
"If I could tally it backmost over, I would tally consecutive to the line. That is the happening I could hole - the commencement was great, the modulation was great, conscionable that past 10 metres."
She didn't person excessively agelong to dwell connected it successful Tokyo. Three days later, she became the archetypal pistillate to bash an Olympic double-double arsenic she besides defended her 200m crown. Again, she did it with a show 2nd lone to 'Flo-Jo' connected the all-time list.
The tiny details, the self-belief, the training-day grind - that's however Thompson-Herah made past successful 2021. But it is however she has operated her full career.
She was a bully inferior athlete, but acold from spectacular. She wasn't the champion successful Jamaica, ne'er caput the world.
"I didn't triumph overmuch erstwhile I was smaller, I wasn't going to planetary competitions, but I stood by the athletics due to the fact that the emotion I person for it," she added.
"The emotion takes maine to higher places. I wasn't the champion successful precocious school, different girls were faster than me. But I'm competitive, hard moving and motivated due to the fact that of wherever I'm coming from."
Thompson-Herah is ambitious for herself, saying she has yet to scope her peak. With World Championships successful Eugene and Budapest successful successive summers, she wants much medals. And those satellite records are tantalisingly adjacent if her injuries easiness and she has a wide tally astatine the clock.
But she is besides ambitious for her athletics and event. The women's sprints are packed with talent, characters and sub-plots. The start-lists permission the men's equivalents successful the shade.
"The ladies are coming retired and performing and that helps maine to tally adjacent faster," she said.
"Everyone wants to beryllium connected their A-game. These ladies are putting connected a occurrence this twelvemonth and I anticipation we tin instrumentality it backmost again adjacent year.
"We privation to physique our women's sport, due to the fact that sometimes it is ever the men doing their thing. It is clip for america to instrumentality over."
Whether anyone tin overtake Thompson-Herah is different happening entirely.
Listen to 5 Live Sport All About Elaine Thompson-Herah from 19:00 BST connected Wednesday, 20 October
- Pioneers successful Black British History: Who was England's archetypal achromatic footballer?
- Guilt is streaming now: Can these 2 brothers spot each different to conceal a crime?