Disappointing Olympic 100-meter dash final for Eastern’s English Gardner

It was over before it even started.

English Gardner was last out of the blocks, her worst start in recent memory, and in a field of the world’s fastest women, she was never able to get back in the race.

A very disappointing Olympics debut for the Eastern High School graduate and two-time U.S. champion.

Gardner, ranked No. 7 in world history at 100 meters, finished seventh in the 100-meter dash Saturday night at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.

She ran the fastest seventh-place time in Olympics history at 10.94, but it was well off her PR of 10.74 set in Eugene at the Olympic Trials and slower even than her 10.90 in the semifinals.

If she repeated that 10.74, she would have won the silver medal.

“Honestly, I did everything my coach told me to do,” Gardner said. “I can’t even tell you what went wrong. I woke up this morning feeling not myself, but I always feel like if you step on the line you’re ready.

“I can’t blame it on anything. I just didn’t have it today.”

 Elaine Thompson, the only woman in the world to run faster than Gardner this year, won the Olympic 100 in 10.71 and countrywoman Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce was third in 10.86.

Former NCAA long jump and 100 champ Tori Bowie, who Gardner edged at the Olympic Trials, brought the U.S. the silver medal, placing second in 10.83.

“Tori Bowie went out there and represented like a champ like she always does,” Gardner said.

Gardner was bidding to become the first South Jersey woman to earn an Olympic medal in track and field.

Now Pleasantville graduate Nia Ali has a chance to do that in the 100-meter hurdles on Tuesday.

But Gardner also has another chance to medal. The women’s 400-meter relay is scheduled for Thursday and Friday, and the U.S. and Jamaica are expected to battle for the gold medal, although Jamaica is the favorite.

“They’re not unbeatable,” Gardner said of the Jamaicans. “They’re running right around the same times as the Americans are running. We just have to put the race together.”

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