Shelly-Ann Fraser Pryce had done it all and there was nothing left to prove. Or at leastthat is what we all thought in 2016 when an
injury plagued ‘pocket rocket’ could only bow out of the Rio Olympic Games with a bronze medal in the 100 metres. Had she
won that event she would have beaten Usain Bolt to history becoming the first athlete to defend the 100 metres Olympic title twice. It was not to be and the three time World Champion over 100 metres and 2011 200 metres World Champion seemed to have closed the door on her
glory days. Her focus moved to family life and having her first child and we celebrated her achievements and closed the door on that chapter.
Not so fast. We never learned the lesson from doing the same thing with Merlene Ottey and Brigitte Foster-Hylton. Never tell an athlete when they are finished. They know best! In 2018, after giving birth to her son Zyon, Fraser Pryce returned to the track and produced some pleasing and perhaps surprising results. The 2013 IAAF World Athlete of the Year finished fifth in the 100 metres at the North American, Central American and Caribbean Championships (NA CAC) in Toronto and earned a silver medal with the sprint relay team. Earlier in July, she had proved that she was returning to form with a 10.98 seconds win at the London Diamond League. People started sitting up and taking notice. Could the pocket rocket return to top form?
2019 – Return of an Icon
2019 was Fraser Pryce’s first full season back from maternity and childbirth. In April she was a member of the Jamaican sprint relay team which won at the Penn Relays and she also won the Grenada Invitational 100 metres in a relatively slow 11.20 seconds.. In May she ran at the World Relays with the 4X200 metres team which earned the bronze medal and took the gold at the JAAA All Comers Meet in Kingston
in 10.97 seconds. People started to take notice. In June she announced herself. Shelly was back! First she won the Racers Grand Prix in 10.88 seconds before finishing second in a virtual dead heat with Elaine Thompson-Herah at the Jamaica National Championship in 10.73 seconds, the fastest time of the year at that point.
Then in July in Lausanne at the Diamond League she won the 100 metres in 10.74 seconds before taking gold at the Müller Anniversary Games in London in 10.78 seconds. At the Diamond League Final in Belgium, She finished second in 10.95 seconds behind Dina Asher-Smith Shelly-Ann was unperturbed. The aim was the World Championship, not the Diamond League.
In Doha, the pocket rocket, seemingly always with Zyon on hip, was impeccable. In the heats of the 100 metres on September 28 she ran a fast 10.90 seconds to destroy the field. The following day in the semi-final, she ran 10.81, the fastest semi-final time, to take her place in the Final. Dina Asher-Smith, Marie-Josée Ta Lou and Elaine Thompson-Herah were also in the final and the question on everyone’s lips was whether Thompson had been playing possum. In the Final Fraser Pryce left nothing to doubt. She flew down the track in the fastest time of the year, 10.71 seconds, leaving all and sundry in her wake. There was absolutely no doubt remaining. This was the second coming of Shelly-Ann Fraser Pryce. The only question was whether she would be able to sustain it to the Japan Olympics. As icing on the cake, Fraser Pryce then led the Jamaican 4X100 metres team to a dominant win in the sprint relay Final in a world leading 41.44 seconds.
Shelly had proved that there was no big race runner better than her and just three months shy of her 33rd birthday, this little genius had started the second stage of her career, as a mother and world beater.