Stuart Weir wrote 2 pieces on the iconic Jamaian sprinter. We love SAFP and she’s always quoteable, as she has won gold in 2009, 2013, 2015 and now, 2019! Plus Olympic gold as well.
This is part 1 of 2 on SAFP, who took her 4th title in the 100m (2009, 2013, 2015, 2019) in Doha. Stuart likes SAFP, and we do too!
A year in the life of SAPF
I have been privileged to see Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce run in three continents this year, starting in Yokohama in May for the World Relays and culminating in the World Championship in Doha. In this article I put together what she said at each stage of the year to chart her progress and development of her expectations for the season. I make no claim to be an impartial observer. She is probably my favorite athlete. I have also been blessed to see her in three Olympics and five World Championships.
After taking bronze in Rio 2016 at the end of a season where she struggled with injury, Shelly got pregnant and gave birth to Zyon during the 2017 World Championships, going into labor as she cheered Elaine Thompson on, watching on TV at home!! She ran a bit in 2018, setting herself the target of running a sub 11 seconds by the end of the season. She ran 10.98 in the Muller Anniversary Games in London.
World Relays 2019
I first saw her in 2019 in the World Relays in Yokohama in May, where she was running a 4 by 200. I asked her what we could expect from her in 2010. She replied: “I am honestly just trying to get back to where I was in previous years. It’s a long journey but I’m being patient and working hard, trusting the process and believing that at the end of the day everything will work according to God’s will”.
Jamaican Trials and Prefontaine
Everyone sat up and took notice when she and Elaine Thompson each ran 10.73 in the Jamaicans Championships. But when she followed that with 11.39 for eighth place at Prefontaine, it looked as if the season might not be as straightforward as we had thought, and they all sat down again.
European Diamond Leagues
I saw her in Lausanne, London, Birmingham and Brussels. In Lausanne she ran 11.74, mischievously I asked her where the hundredth of a second (from the Jamaican trials) had gone! In London she won again, this time in 10.78. In Birmingham she ran a 200 and then in the Diamond League final in Brussels she was second in 10.95. However, the word on the street was that she was carrying an injury and also in hard training focused on Doha and not on Brussels.
In Lausanne she told me: “The race tonight was pretty good, coming back from Prefontaine where I didn’t have a good race. It was good to have a solid race and I was particularly pleased with the last 30 meters. I am grateful for the opportunity to continue competing at a high level because I missed competition in the past two years. I am staying grounded, putting in the work because Doha is a long way off. But you can’t take anything for granted. I don’t think a lot about times. I think more about the execution because naturally for me, I’m not one of the best runners in terms of technique so I need to put a lot of effort and emphasis on my technique. The time tonight (10.74) is a surprise I suppose but I’m putting in the work and getting the results”.
Of the London win, she said: “I was really happy to come away with a win. It’s a long season and I’ve been training and training. To come out here and run 10.78 is a fabulous time. I feel good. The aim is to make sure when I get to Doha that I’m on point. Right now the females are so close in terms of time so you definitely just have to come out and make sure that you’re ready to run. My aim for Doha is definitely to be on the podium. For me, it’s a long season from here so I am hoping my experience will come into play”.
In a longer chat in Lausanne she told me that she had missed the competition during her maternity leave but had not missed the travelling – “I’m not an aeroplane person”. I asked her if she had been surprised to be running 10.7s so early in the season
“Considering the time that I did at the Racers’ Grand Prix, I don’t think I was surprised was 10.73 at the national championships”, she told me. “At the time I was just pleased with the result because the aim was just to make the national team. I made the team and I ran a fantastic time so it was a win, win, particularly coming back from having a child, it puts you in a good space, after believing in everything from the beginning seeing that everything was unfolding the way it should.
“I felt no pressure going into the Jamaican championships. I thought my chances of making the team were very high. I just needed to execute and be focused. I was more concerned about not having any hiccups going into the final because so many things can happen. You can be the favorite and something happens at the start and that is it. For me it was just about getting through the rounds and securing the spot”.
She also shared how having a son had changed her perspective and in a strange way helped her get more out of training: “I don’t carry Zyon to training every day but when I do, he’s very active. He’s an active child. I suppose that’s what you get for being an athlete. He is always running around or wanting to kick a ball. Sometimes he does abs with me so it’s pretty fun, a little lighter. I’m a lot more mellow about training and like to have my fun. Before I was a bit uptight because I’m one of those persons who always strives for perfection and wants to get everything done when I need it done. Now that I have my son, I understand that sometimes things don’t go the way you plan. But you have another day and you just need to make sure that you make each day count”.
Among her achievements
2 x Olympic champion
8 x World champion
3 x Olympic Games Silver medallist
1 x World Championships Silver medallist
1 x World Indoor champion
1 x Olympic Games Bronze medallist
1 x Commonwealth Games winner
1 x Pan American Games winner
18 x Diamond League meeting winner
5 x National champion
4 x Diamond Trophy winner