Looking for her fourth Olympic team, Shelly Ann Fraser-Pryce proved, once again, that she is a medal contender in any race that she enters. Stuart focused on SAFP in his first article on the Doha Diamond League meeting, held today, May 28, 2021.
Shelly-Ann looking the part!
The women’s 100m was probably the race that I was most looking forward to in a varied and impressive Doha Wanda Diamond League program. Conditions could hardly have been more different from last Sunday’s Diamond League opener in Gateshead, where cold, rain and wind did their best to ruin the spectacle. The winning time in Doha was half a second faster than in Gateshead.
The Gateshead race gave Britain’s Dina Asher-Smith the chance to take on Shelly-Ann and the 2021 World Leader, Sha’Carrie Richardson. Dina won the race in 11.35. Richardson was expected in Doha but, I understand, decided after Gateshead to return home. Dina was not in Doha.
Shelly-Ann won the Doha race in 10.84, an impressive time in May, particularly having not run a 100 before last weekend. Blessing Okabare took 2nd place in 10.90 with Javianne Oliver building on her excellent indoor series with third place in 11.03, not quite matching her PR of 10.97 earlier this month.
Shelly-Ann, who won the 2019 world championship 100m on her last visit to Doha, said of her race: “It’s the second time that I win 100m, and I’m happy that I put together a good race, and of course I’m happy that I won because it’s far away from the 4th place that I did the last time [Gateshead]. I’m excited about this season, I’m progressing. It’s gonna be my final Olympic appearance so I hope it will be good. The last 3 Olympics I went to, I was able to stand on the podium, and I’m hoping to be able to make it there again, God willing”.
Okabare commented: “It was okay, I made some errors, but I’m happy that I’m healthy and now I’ll go back to work hard. I was focused on this race, me and my training. I didn’t care about the other athletes”. What do I know? But how I would have thought that 10.90 in May is more than just “OK”.
In an Olympic year, it’s hard not to keep interpreting everything in the light of Tokyo. In my report on Gateshead, I said that I thought some of the British Press were reading too much into a victory for Dina Asher-Smith in atrocious conditions. It was strange to see Shelly-Ann run an 11.51 in Gateshead. But, as Mark Twain didn’t say, rumors of her demise have been exaggerated. At the Doha Press conference, Shelly said that she hoped to go under 11 seconds. 10.84 was a significant marker.
Early last year, I asked Shelly as she approached a fourth Olympics, what were the advantages and disadvantages of being older? She replied: “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”.
I suspect that it will take a 10.7 to win the Olympic 100m. Shelley first ran sub 10.8 in 2008, repeated it another 14 times, going sub 10.8 in six different years including four times in 2019. She has the pedigree.
As I have already said, I think that any questioning of Shelly on the basis of one bad weather race in England was an overreaction. But as the question was asked, it has been comprehensively answered in Doha.