Many Jamaicans might have asked ‘Shelly-Ann who?’ when she placed second at the national trials in 2008, but everyone’s favourite pint-sized sprinter has since become the darling of the Women’s 100m. Although she had helped Jamaica to a few relay medals at the junior level, and had won silver as a reserve on the 4x100m relay at the 2007 World Championships team in Osaka, Japan, she was not on anyone’s radar as a future star of the sport. But that would all change on Sunday, August 17, 2008, when the gun went off to start the 100m final in Beijing.
Currently hampered by a lingering toe injury, and with fierce rivals ready to eclipse her glory, can Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce defy the odds for a historic three-peat? Let’s take a look at her golden Olympics career thus far:
2008 – Beijing, China: Fraser had a dream Olympics debut. Unencumbered by the weight of expectations, she literally had nothing to lose. She shot out of the blocks first and led all the way through, clocking 10.78 seconds and writing her name in the annals of Jamaican and Caribbean sprint history. The race was made even sweeter for us as Kerron Stewart and Sherone Simpson were inseparable at the line, and were both awarded silver medals. Unfortunately, the women couldn’t get the baton around in the 4x100m.
2012 – London, England: Now Mrs. Fraser-Pryce, the ‘Pocket Rocket’ came into the Games on the heels of a lacklustre 2011 season, which included losing her World Championships titles in the 100m and 4x100m. Determined to atone, she eked out a victory in the 100m, clocking 10.70 seconds over the USA’s Carmelita Jeter (10.78) and compatriot Veronica Campbell-Brown (10.81). She followed up with a silver medal in one of her few 200m races, clocking a then personal best of 22.09 seconds, behind America’s Allyson Felix. She earned another silver in the 4x100m relay, teaming up with Simpson, Campbell-Brown and Stewart to clock a new national record of 41.41 seconds.
The odds are against her once again, and this time there’s a world of pressure. But Fraser-Pryce knows how to win when it counts, so that could work in her favour in Rio 2016.
Tracey-Ann Wisdom is a freelance writer and editor based in Kingston, Jamaica. You can find her online at www.writtenbytracey.com.