Day in the Life of Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, March 27, by Elena Dyachkova
Many times Olympic and World champion, the only woman to win World titles in the 100m, 200m and 60m, Jamaica’s Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce keeps herself busy, works hard and doesn’t let the euphoria from past victories take over.
6:00 am in Kingston. Quiet and what most Jamaicans would call chilly outside. Perfect time for a workout. The MVP Track Club athletes gather at the grass track of the University of Technology for their first session of the day. One of the most titled female sprinters, newly crowned World Indoor Champion in the 60m Shelly-Ann Fraser Pryce is here, along with her training partners Nesta Carter, Kaliese Spencer, Stephenie McPherson, Carrie Russell, Anneisha McLaughlin and many others. Actually, the MVP athletes combined with the UTech team, also coached by Stephen Francis, constitute a very large group – more than 50 athletes are on the track this early in the morning.
SAFP training, photo by Jean-Pierre DURAND, for the IAAF
Typically, at that time of the year, the MVP athletes are training at the National Stadium, but this week the facility is occupied by the biggest athletics event in Jamaica – the Boys and Girls Championships, or simply the Champs. So the training sessions take place on grass, and the workload is significantly reduced.
After several warm-up drills and massage, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce joins other sprinters for a block starts practice. The “Pocket Rocket” is doing all her starts with male sprinters. The atmosphere is very relaxed, but Shelly-Ann admits, that it‘s more of an exception. “Catch us on a normal week, and after the starts, we would do a lot more. You wouldn‘t be able to talk to me, because I‘d be sleeping, with an umbrella over my head and sunblock on. Or making noise, crying, having somebody to take my spikes off. Everybody would be complaining about how heavy their legs are, how their muscles are tight. But it‘s still fun, because we understand that hard work definitely pays off“, she explained.
Between the track session and a weight training later in the day, Fraser-Pryce goes to her hair salon. She opened her business called Chic Hair Ja in January. Shelly-Ann admits, that one of the reasons for opening a hair salon was her love for changing her hairstyle often, but there was a more important motivation for becoming a business lady. “I have a passion for creating jobs. A lot of young ladies in Jamaica leave schools with degrees and are then sitting at home. But if I can create any difference for any of them, it goes somewhere“, she smiled. The business has been successful so far, but the athlete admits that some clients come to the salon just to talk to her, or to leave her a message, and this kind of clients can be difficult to deal with.
Shelly-Ann has another important project in her life – the Pocket Rocket Foundation, that supports high school athletes in difficult financial situation to get a proper education and keep on training. During the first year of operation, the Foundation awarded seven scholarships. “As a chairman of the foundation I believe not only in issuing cheques to schools, but also in following up with the kids, being there for them emotionally, getting to understand what‘s going on with them at school“, Shelly-Ann explained.
The recipients of the “Pocket Rocket Foundation” aren‘t necessarily representing track and field, but those who do, spend this week competing at the Champs. And Shelly-Ann is there, watching them from the trackside or… from a commentator‘s booth as an invited analyst. “I was nervous at first, when I got there, because I was surrounded by such renowned people. Then I started to settle down and enjoying it. I‘m just giving my own insight. It shows, how far I‘ve come in the sport, to be able to analyze somebody‘s start, technique. It means‘ I‘ve actually learnt something“, she laughed.
But for the last day of the Champs Shelly-Ann will be freed from her TV duties to just watch the competition from the stands and cheer for her high school – Wolmer‘s. And she won‘t be holding her emotions back. “I will be breaking the rules. I‘ll be standing on the chair, making noise. I‘m one of those persons who gets nails done in my school‘s colors. If you have a purple shirt on (color of the Kingston College, on of the main Wolmer‘s rivals – E.D.), don‘t even try to hug me“, the athlete joked.
After the week of the Champs, she‘ll be back to a serious business, with the Diamond League events and the World Relays being looming on the horizon. Even though the World Relays are just five days after Shelly-Ann‘s scheduled trip to the Shanghai Diamond League meeting, she will definitely be in the Bahamas, at least for one of the relays. Later this summer – an event, she has never taken part in – the Commonwealth Games. Even though coach Francis admits, that it‘s scheduled away from Shelly-Ann‘s peak of form, he plans for her to compete at least in the relay. Another chance to expand Fraser-Pryce‘s overly impressive medal collection. But the athlete admits, that making the history is not what excites and drives her at the moment.
“Even in Moscow, in the evening after winning my third medal I sat in my room and thought: “Oh my God, how am I going to run these performances again?” Immediately my mind takes me back to hard work, back to training“, she explained. “There are many more things to come in terms of, as you say, being the greatest Jamaican female athlete or one of the greatest sprinters, because I still want to run 21 seconds, to run low 10.7, and I still have some way to go. For now I‘m still set on working hard, being grounded and just trusting God to give me strength and health to do the things that I need to do“.
As for the World record, before thinking about 10.4, Shelly-Ann aims to reach 10.6, and admits that she would love some wind assistance. “I‘ve always had a negative wind, or a still wind. I‘ve never had a +2.0, or +1.9. I believe it will happen one day, but until then, I‘m just working hard“, the Jamaican noted.