This is a fun interview with the Jamaican pocket rocket, Shelly Ann Fraser-Pryce, by Stuart Weir. Thanks to Stuart for finding this one. SAFP is one of the finest sprinters in the world and a deadly relay runner.
20 questions Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce. (Recorded February 2020)
1. Assessment of 2019?
SAFP: Good. It was a great year for me. At the end of the day, winning the championship is always a plus. I wanted to have a PB but that didn’t happen. But that’s how it is and you just have to continue to work and hope for the best.
2. In Tokyo (April 2019) you said to me that you didn’t know how far you could get in 2019.
SAFP: That is true. I didn’t know what would happen after having my son and with 2018 being an off year with no championship. And going into 2019 I really didn’t know how long it would take me. I’ve always been a hard worker and always been committed. I am one of those persons who just goes for it. I put in the work and hope for the best
3. A lot of us were surprised how fast you ran but you’re saying you are disappointed not to get the PB!
SAFP: Yes, I really believe I could have got a PB in the year but I’m still thanking God for what transpired last year. You can’t take anything for granted and you still have to be grateful. Coming back after having my son and winning the world championship is a big plus. When you work for a time, and it doesn’t happen – you work harder for it next time.
4. What was your best race last year?
SAFP: Lausanne Diamond League was the best race I ran last season [10.73]. Technically it was good. I have opened up more of those races, paying more attention to my technique and being patient with the phases of the 100 meters.
5. I’ve heard you say “I’m still learning how to run the 200 meters” – how can aformer world champion and Olympic medalist at 200 still be learning?
SAFP: It’s true I’m still learning. I wouldn’t consider myself to have a lot of speed endurance. I use my raw speed to run the 200 and I am still learning: do I blast the first 100 or do I take the first 50 easy and run off the curve? I’m still learning it and that is the beauty of me wanting to run below 22 seconds. I know that when I get the right way to run it, I know I’ll definitely be able to dip below 22 seconds.
6. Were you disappointed not to run the 200 in Doha world championships?
SAFP: I was disappointed but my coach said he didn’t want to push me too much in the 200, doing the double because 2020 is a big year. And we will definitely focus on doing both this year. So while I was disappointed, I was listening to what he had to say and I trusted that.
7. Moscow when you ran seven races, you told me that was very demanding
SAFP: Yes, doing the double is a lot of races and it was definitely hard – running the 100, coming back to do the 200 and then the 4 by 100 is very taxing on the body. So you have to be mentally and physically prepared to do the double. So I understood what he was saying. He believed that having last year’s training and building on it this year, my body would be better able to manage doing the 100 and the 200. He is preparing me for that and I am looking forward to it. If everything goes according to plan that [doubling up in Tokyo] is the plan.
8. What is your schedule at home?
SAFP: It’s demanding but it’s about prioritizing what is important. My son and my family are very important and my training is important, so I make time for the things that are important. I go to training in the morning and I come back home in the afternoon, spend some time with Zyon and then head back to evening practice. I train two times during the day. That is pretty much a routine for us. At the weekends, I try to make time for the family and go out with them. I definitely look forward to that.
9. You also seem to do a lot of appearances for charities etc.
SAFP: I do. I fit those in. It all works with the time I have. Tuesdays and Thursdays are the days I usually do those things. It also depends on the time of the day.
rrShelly Ann Fraser-Pryce, photo by Getty Images / World Athletics
10. Why did you decide to do an indoor race this year?
SAFP: Actually, it was my coach who made the decision! I was going to do the World Indoors but of course that has been postponed. I’m only doing just one race [Glasgow] but I am excited because it is a while since I have run a 60 metre indoor race.
11. I think you ran your first indoor race in Birmingham in 2014 and then won the world’s in Sopot, Poland.
SAFP: Yes, but I have not run many indoor races since.
12. Will you do lots of Diamond Leagues this year?
SAFP: I don’t know. It’s still early in the year and my coach is the one who decides how many races I will have and where. I trust his approach. I would think it would be pretty much the same as last year.
13. What was your best ever race in terms of feeling you really got it right?
SAFP: 2012, the Jamaican National championship when I ran my 10.70 PB. That was a very solid race and probably my best ever.
14. One career highlight?
SAFP: I would definitely say 2008, winning the Olympic 100m. It was a surreal moment that I was able to win an Olympic gold medal. I never thought in a million years that that would happen. I was really just there for the experience.
15. You weren’t really one of the favorites in 2008.
SAFP: No, nobody really knew who I was! It was like coming out of nowhere!
16. 2012 you probably were the favorite!
SAFP: That was definitely a different experience. There were a lot of other things that came with that one and I was feeling a bit of pressure, feeling I had something to prove. So there were a number of things I was dealing with. So at the 2012 Olympics, I was grateful to come away with the win.
17. Perhaps you disagree, but I thought 2016 was a phenomenal achievement, to come third in Rio, given all that you are dealing with!
SAFP: It is definitely an achievement getting a medal despite having the toe injury. Having to deal with that during the season was untimely. Mentally I had to dig deep. There was nothing I could do would stop the pain. It was excruciating pain and I just had to find a way to bear it. I was in tears but I still found a way to show up. Getting the bronze medal for that effort shows that there’s so much more I can do. If I am mentally focused, I know I can achieve great things.
18. At Doha and in 2019 how aware were you of the talk of the year of the mother?
SAFP: To be honest I wasn’t really aware. It was afterwards when I saw that mothers were doing phenomenal things. It was a good era, a good legacy, to be part of. We were all running different events. And it showed that whether you’re running the 400, hurdles or sprints you want to have a baby and if you want to come back, it is possible. It was good to have representation in different areas of the sport. And where we’re headed in track and field and what these ladies decide to do, you know you can be successful regardless.
19. In Tokyo you will be 12 years older than when you won your first Olympics – what are the advantages and disadvantages of being older?
SAFP: For me there is no disadvantage. I see it as a blessing to be able to challenge for a fourth Olympics. Having had the experience of different Olympic scenarios, I plan on drawing on all those experiences. Because I know what it takes, whether I’m coming back from an injury or feeling injury, under pressure or feeling pressure – I have experienced all of that and all that experience will definitely help me to stay focused and to know what to expect and to know what to do and what not to do, leading into the Olympics.
20. Of course, Veronica did five Olympics – will we see you in Paris 2024?
SAFP: LAUGHS. No! No! She did five because she started younger than me. Definitely no more Olympics after Tokyo!