Editorial

In honour of a great Jamaican

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

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The extraordinary Jamaican sprinter Mrs Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce wasn't always a winner.

Indeed, at Jamaica's world-famous high school Boys' and Girls' Championships, Mrs Fraser-Pryce — unlike the bulk of Jamaica's track stars — did not capture the headlines.

And when she blasted out of the blocks and sped to victory in the 100 metres at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China, she was for many watchers of track athletics a virtual unknown.

In that respect, the extraordinary accomplishments of Mrs Fraser-Pryce, as much as that of any other, have underlined the great strength of her coach, Mr Stephen Francis.

That capacity to help athletes achieve what, for many others, amounts to unsuspected potential makes Mr Francis one of the great sprint coaches of our time.

Recognition of her early vulnerabilities and the need to work hard have no doubt contributed to Mrs Fraser-Pryce's success down the years, to the point where she is now considered Jamaica's most successful female 100m runner of all time.

Even as Mr Usain Bolt captured the imagination of the world with his awesome talent and engaging personality, Mrs Fraser-Pryce concretised Jamaica's place in the forefront of women's sprinting globally; building on the outstanding work of such legends as Ms Merlene Ottey and Mrs Veronica Campbell Brown.

Short in stature, Mrs Fraser-Pryce blended a blazing start with lightning foot speed to earn the pet name “Pocket Rocket”. At the height of her career, she not only showed off the kind of electrifying speed, which took her to the 2012 Olympic Gold medal in London in 10.75 seconds over 100 metres, but also physical strength, which took her to the 200m Olympic silver medal in London in 22.09 seconds.

Given her great talent and achievements on the track, Mrs Fraser Pryce could easily have lost touch with her roots and those who helped her along the way. Not so, she has remained humble, her feet solidly grounded.

Note her words as she spoke at the formal unveiling of her statue at Independence Park last Sunday:

“This day would not be possible without my village. As I stand here, I reflect on the resilience of a single mother, Maxine, who did the best she could with what she had. She made miracles out of the ordinary things. The generosity of my primary school teacher, Ms Edwards, at George Headley Primary, who gifted me my very first pair of spikes. This is why it is important to partner in the dreams of others; you never know what can happen.

“I am thankful for the vision of the MVP Track Club, mainly my coach, Stephen Francis; manager, Bruce James; and my agent, Adrian Laidlaw, who told Jamaica and the world in loud tones that Jamaican athletes can train in Jamaica and be the very best in the world.”

Mrs Fraser-Pryce loves track athletics, which is why she has continued on after giving birth for the first time last year.

Such is her determination and will to succeed she may well achieve great heights in track yet again.

However, whether she does or not, we expect her to remain a beacon for all Jamaicans.

We are not aware if the criteria for deciding who gets a statue for performance is spelt out and documented, but of one thing we are sure, whatever the yardstick, Mrs Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce has the vote of all Jamaicans.

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