Jamaicans and other track and field fans are venting their frustrations online, vowing to boycott Nike unless Olympic champion and fastest woman in the world Elaine Thompson-Herah is treated with respect.
At the Eugene Diamond League race on Saturday, Thompson-Herah, who signed a professional contract with the American sportswear company in 2016, ran the second-fastest women’s 100-meter time in history. She also successfully defended her Olympic championships in the 100-meter and 200-meter dashes at the just-completed Tokyo 2020 Games.
This follows the publication of a Nike ad featuring Sha’Carri Richardson to celebrate her return to the Eugene Diamond League.
Elaine Thompson Herah won in a world-leading time, Shelly Ann Fraser-Price finished second, and Sherica Jackson finished third, emulating their 1,2,3 triumph at the Tokyo Olympics. Last place went to Sha’Carri Richardson.
The Diamond League organizers were softly promoting Richardson alongside the Jamaican athletes in the lead-up to the race. She was unveiled as the sixth fastest woman in the world, and she was requested to join the Olympic champions onstage for a news conference, which was fraught with anxiety.
“This is nothing new, we are just getting back on track now,” she added, noting that she has 2 million Instagram followers.
“It’s going to be an incredible race tomorrow standing up against these women, two of the women shown here are two of the fastest women to ever do the sport, so I’m honored to be on the stage with them, but I’m not star struck,” she added.
She delivered an odd post-race interview after losing, saying, “I am not done.” And she reaffirmed her sixth-place finish. Nike only congratulated Elaine Thompson on their “Nike Running” page, which has 5.7 million followers, rather than their main @Nike account, which has 169 million. The ad with Sha’Carri Richardson, who finished 9th in the Diamond League, was posted three days ago on that page.
Fans of track and field are becoming increasingly irritated with Nike and other American brands for their apparent slighting of the world’s fastest woman.
“I’m not understanding @nbc not interviewing @FastElaine after running 10.54!” tweeted Michael Johnson, a former American athlete and world record holder. I understand interviewing @itskerrii because, let’s face it, she had a significant role in the story. However, this is ludicrous! #Prefontaine”
“It is, and a reminder of why we should tell our own stories,” remarked businessman Wayne Chen in response to Micheal Johnson. It’s nothing new for an American media outlet to focus on an over-hyped American athlete, and it’s quite understandable.
“I agree with this,” @leiciasmoothy said in response to Debbie Bissoon’s boycott effort. @Nike, we’re starting a revolution, and we’re going to see it through, no matter how long it takes. @FastElaine is in desperate need of a new sponsor… @PUMA, we believe you should take over for all of our athletes; we won’t let you down.”
“Nike, you dropped the ball,” claimed Jamaican singer Nickeisha Barnes.
Despite her dismal performance on the world stage, Richardson is the leading 100m track and field athlete in America. She failed to qualify for the Olympics due to a positive test for a banned substance.
Nike said in a statement when Richardson was suspended last month, “We appreciate Sha’Carri’s honesty and accountability and will continue to support her through this time.”
“Her rep and her sponsors I’m sure have fantastic plans for her,” said Nugent Walker, Usain Bolt’s manager, when asked if Nike fumbled the ball on Elaine Thompson Herah. Most likely, the time hasn’t enabled it to come to fruition yet.”
The hashtag #boycottnike is being used to link the internet conversation. Up until the time of publication, Nike had not replied to the current outrage or taken any moves to feature Elaine Thompson Herah on their main pages.