Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, OD (née Fraser; born December 27, 1986) is a Jamaican track and field sprinter who competes in the 100 metres and 200 metres. Widely regarded as one of the greatest sprinters of all time, her achievements on the track for more than a decade have helped to elevate Jamaican athletics on the international scene. In the 100 m, her signature event, she is a two-time Olympic gold medallist and a four-time world champion, while in the 200 m, she is an Olympic silver medallist and the 2013 world champion.

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce
Women's 100 m podium Beijing 2015 cropped.jpg
Fraser-Pryce in 2015
Personal information
NationalityJamaican
Born (1986-12-27) 27 December 1986 (age 33)
Kingston, Jamaica
ResidenceKingston, Jamaica
Height1.60 m (5 ft 3 in)[1]
Weight52 kg (115 lb)
Sport
CountryJamaica
SportTrack and field
Event(s)Sprint
ClubMVP Track & Field Club
Coached byStephen Francis
Achievements and titles
Personal best(s)
  • 60 m: 6.98
  • 100 m: 10.70 =NR
  • 200 m: 22.09

A six-time Olympic medallist, Fraser-Pryce won her first title at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, becoming the first Caribbean woman to win 100 m gold in this event. At the 2012 London Olympics, she became one of only three women in history to defend an Olympic 100 m title. After injury affected her season, she won bronze at the 2016 Rio Olympics, becoming the first female sprinter to win 100 m medals at three consecutive Olympics.

At the World Championships, Fraser-Pryce is one of the most decorated athletes in history with 11 medals, including nine gold and two silver. She is the only sprinter, male or female, to win four World Championship titles in the 100 m—in 2009, 2013, 2015 and 2019, the last of which she achieved after becoming a mother in 2017. Her win in 2019 at the age of 32 also made her the oldest female sprinter to claim a global 100 m title. In 2013, she became the first woman to win the 100 m, 200 m and 4 × 100 m at a single World Championship. That year, she was voted the IAAF World Athlete of the Year. She added the 60 m title in 2014, making her the only woman to become world champion in all four events at the same time.

A dominant force in women's sprinting, Fraser-Pryce has won more global 100 m titles than any other female sprinter in history. Nicknamed the "Pocket Rocket" for her petite stature and explosive block starts, her personal best of 10.70 seconds is the joint fourth fastest of all time. She has posted the most sub-10.80 s clockings in history with 14, as well as the second most sub-11 s clockings with over 50. World Athletics described her as "the greatest female sprinter of her generation."[2] In 2019, she was listed among BBC's 100 inspiring and influential women in the world.

Early life and careerEdit

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce was born to parents Orane Fraser and Maxine Simpson. She was raised with her two brothers by her mother in the violent inner city community of Waterhouse, near Kingston.[3][4] Her mother was a former athlete who worked as a street vendor.[5][6] Fraser-Pryce was a gifted sprinter from a very young age, and started running barefoot in primary school.[7][8] Throughout her time at the Wolmer's High School for Girls, she was uncertain about pursuing a career in track and field.[9] However, she was active on the youth athletics scene, competing in the famous Inter-Secondary Schools Boys and Girls Championships (known locally as "Champs"), and winning bronze in the 100 m at age 16.[3][10] In 2002, she won the 200 m title at the Jamaican Under-18 Championships, clocking 25.35 s, and won gold in the 4 × 100 m relay at the Central American and Caribbean Junior Championships, held in Bridgetown, Barbados.[11][12] At the 2005 CARIFTA Games, held in Trinidad and Tobago, she ran 11.73 s to claim bronze in the 100 m and earned a gold medal as part of the 4 × 100 m relay team.[13][14]

In 2006, Fraser-Pryce started attending the University of Technology, Jamaica, where she met and began training with Stephen Francis.[15] At the time, Francis was the head coach at the MVP (Maximising Velocity and Power) Track Club, and had guided the career of former 100 m world record holder Asafa Powell.[15] Despite encouragement from peers and coaches, she was unfocused as a young athlete—she admitted to being lazy, always late for training, and would not complete her workouts for fear that she would become too muscular.[9]

Fraser-Pryce began to achieve success on the senior national and international stages in 2007.[9] As a 20-year-old, she came fifth in the 100 m at the Jamaican National Senior Championships in June, clocking 11.31 s.[11] Although she did not qualify for the individual event at the 2007 Osaka World Championships, she was selected for the 4 × 100 m relay team.[9] Hoping to gain experience at an international level, she made her debut on the European athletics circuit at the Budapest Iharos Memorial in July, running a wind-aided 11.39 s.[11] She also competed at the Olbia Meeting Terra Sarda in Italy, winning in 11.44 s, and at the Stockholm DN-Galan in Sweden, where she also placed first in 11.57 s.[16] At the World Championships in September, Fraser-Pryce ran only in the relay heats, helping her team place second in 42.70 s. She ultimately earned a silver medal when the Jamaican team finished behind the United States in the 4 × 100 m relay final.[9][17] Despite initially being nervous about having to compete at the World Championships, Fraser-Pryce later credited her experience in Osaka for changing her attitude towards athletics and for making her much more focused.[9]

Professional careerEdit

2008–2009: Olympic and world championEdit

 
Fraser-Pryce (centre) ahead of the field in the 100 m final at the 2009 World Championships.

Fraser-Pryce's breakthrough came in 2008, and was sudden and unexpected.[8][18] At the Jamaican Olympic Trials in June, she finished second in the 100 m final in a new personal best of 10.82 s, upstaging some of her more celebrated compatriots in a close finish.[19] Kerron Stewart won the national title in 10.80 s, while Sherone Simpson finished third in 10.86 s.[19] However, Veronica Campbell-Brown, the reigning 100 m world champion and 200 m Olympic champion, finished fourth in 10.88 s, missing out on a spot on the Olympic team for this event.[19][20] With Fraser-Pryce barely known among the local athletics scene, many considered her too inexperienced for the Olympics and petitioned the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) to have her swapped in favour of Campbell-Brown.[17] However, the JAAA upheld its rule permitting only the top-three finishers on the team.[17] Fraser-Pryce recalled being disappointed but mostly unfazed by the backlash, adding that her underdog status worked to her advantage: "I went in just wanting to do well. So there was no pressure and nobody expected anything of me and I was able to compete better, relaxed and be my best."[3]

At the 2008 Summer Olympics, held in Beijing, she placed first in her 100 m heats and semifinals.[21][22] In the 100 m final, she led the way to a Jamaican sweep of the medals, trailed by her teammates Sherone Simpson and Kerron Stewart who both posted 10.98 s for silver (no bronze was awarded).[22][23] With her win, Fraser-Pryce became the first Caribbean woman to claim 100 m gold at the Olympics.[23][24] Her time of 10.78 s was also the second fastest in Olympic history.[20][23] Alongside Stewart, Simpson and Campbell-Brown, she competed in the 4 × 100 m relay, placing first in the heats and qualifying as the fastest overall for the final.[25] However, disappointment followed in the final when a botched baton exchange led to their disqualification.[22][26] A month later in September, Fraser-Pryce also took 100 m gold ahead of Stewart in the IAAF World Athletics Final, held in Stuttgart, Germany, with a time of 10.94 s.[27]

Now a more established young sprinter, 22-year-old Fraser-Pryce reaffirmed her status on the global stage with another surprising win at the 2009 Berlin World Championships.[17] She had a difficult start to the 2009 season, taking leave in April to have her appendix removed while also battling an injury to her hamstring.[28][29] After a fourth place finish at the Prefontaine Classic in early June, she ran a world-leading 10.88 s to claim the 100 m title at the Jamaican Championships, ahead of defending champion Kerron Stewart.[28] However, at the Golden Gala in July, Stewart blasted to victory in 10.75 s (the fifth fastest time in history at that point), emerging as Fraser-Pryce's main rival for 100 m gold ahead of the championships.[30]

At the World Championships, Fraser-Pryce showed her form in the semifinal with 10.79 s, the fastest semifinal time in the history of the event.[31] In the 100 m final, she made a flying start and held off a late challenge from Stewart to win gold in 10.73 s.[31] Sports writer Matthew Brown attributed her victory to "one of the most sensational starts ever seen in a major final."[29] Stewart equalled her own personal best of 10.75 s for silver and Carmelita Jeter of the United States won bronze in 10.90 s.[31] Fraser-Pryce's winning time made her the joint third fastest woman in history at the time, and shaved one-hundredth of a second from Merlene Ottey's Jamaican record.[22][31] With the victory, she also joined American Gail Devers as the only women to win consecutive Olympic and world titles in the 100 m.[31] Fraser-Pryce earned a second gold medal in the championships as part of Jamaica's 4 × 100 m relay team, running alongside Stewart, Simone Facey and Aleen Bailey.[32]

Back on the international circuit that year, she finished fourth at the Zürich Weltklasse in 11.10 s, second at the Memorial Van Damme in 10.98 s, and first at the Rieti Meeting in 11.18 s.[33][34] She ended her season in September following the 2009 IAAF World Athletics Final, where she clocked 10.89 s for silver behind Jeter in the 100 m final.[35]

2010–2011: Suspension and returnEdit

In June 2010, Fraser-Pryce was suspended from athletics for six months after a urine sample taken at the Shanghai Diamond League tested positive for oxycodone.[36][37] Although oxycodone is banned as a narcotic, it is not considered performance enhancing or to be a masking agent.[38] Fraser-Pryce insisted that her positive result was due to medication her coach recommended for a toothache, and that she had neglected to properly declare it.[38][39] She later stated, "[I'm] supposed to set examples – so whatever it is I put in my body it's up to me to take responsibility for it and I have done that."[39] She resumed competition in January 2011, and her track results from 2010 were nullified.[39][40]

Fraser-Pryce married Jason Pryce in January 2011, changing her name from Fraser to Fraser-Pryce.[39] She had a late start to her 2011 season, nursing a calf injury that prevented her from competing at the Jamaican National Championships.[41] She also withdrew from the Athletissima Diamond League meet in Switzerland at the end of June.[41] She ran only four races on the international circuit ahead of the Daegu World Championships, winning once at the Meeting Sport Solidarietà in Italy.[41][42] At the World Championships, she was not considered the favourite for gold, and her season’s best of 10.95 s ranked her the sixth fastest of the year.[43][44]

In Daegu, Fraser-Pryce placed second in her 100 m heat in 11.13 s, then first in her semifinal in 11.03 s.[45] In the 100 m final, she started quickly but could not maintain the lead, finishing fourth in 10.99 s, and missing the podium by 0.01 seconds.[46][47] Gold went to Carmelita Jeter in 10.90 s, while compatriot Veronica Campbell-Brown and Kelly-Ann Baptiste of Trinidad and Tobago collected silver and bronze in 10.97 s and 10.98 s respectively.[46] Fraser-Pryce later ran the lead leg on Jamaica's 4 × 100 m relay team, earning silver behind the United States in a new national record of 41.70 s.[2][48]

The 2011 event in Daegu remains Fraser-Pryce's only appearance at a World Championship final where she did not win 100 m gold.[18][49][50]

2012–2013: Olympic gold and world sprint tripleEdit

 
L-R: Carmelita Jeter, Fraser-Pryce and Kelly-Ann Baptiste in the 100 m at the 2012 Diamond League.

Beginning with her first Olympic win in 2008, Fraser-Pryce had been at the forefront of a booming sprint rivalry between Jamaica and the United States.[51][52] At the Beijing Olympics, Jamaica captured five of a possible six gold medals in the sprints, with Fraser-Pryce and Campbell-Brown winning the 100 m and 200 m respectively, and Usain Bolt dominating the men's 100 m, 200 m, and 4 × 100 m relay (the relay medal was later rescinded).[51][53] Jamaica’s success continued through the 2009 and 2011 World Championships, highlighted by Bolt's record-breaking performances at each event.[54]

Fraser-Pryce had a slow start to her 2012 season. In May, she posted 11.00 s for third at the Doha Diamond League, then 11.06 s for second at the Rome Golden Gala.[55][56] However, by June, she was in winning form, cruising to victory at the Adidas Grand Prix in 10.92 s.[57] Weeks later, she won the sprint double at the Jamaican Olympic Trials in Kingston.[58] In the 100 m, she set a new personal best (and a new world lead) of 10.70 s, which improved on the national record she set in 2009 and moved her to fourth on the all-time list of fastest 100 m times.[58][59] In her first year contesting the 200 m, she defeated the world champion Veronica Campbell-Brown in a career-best 22.10 s.[58] While preparing for the Olympics, she was also completing her Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Technology in Jamaica.

At the Olympics in London, Fraser-Pryce won her 100 m heat and semifinal in 11.00 s and 10.85 s respectively.[60] She progressed to the final as second-fastest behind Carmelita Jeter (10.83 s in both rounds), the reigning world champion and the second fastest woman of all time.[61] In the 100 m final, Fraser-Pryce was quickest from the blocks, and ultimately leaned at the finish line for a narrow victory ahead of Jeter to defend her Olympic title.[61][62] Her time of 10.75 s was the second fastest in Olympic history, while the race itself was the fastest ever 100 m final, with an unprecedented six women breaking 11 seconds.[40][63] Jeter claimed silver in 10.78 s, the fastest runner-up time in Olympic history,[64] while Campbell-Brown earned bronze in 10.81 s.[63][65] With her win, Fraser-Pryce joined Americans Gail Devers and Wyomia Tyus as the only women to defend an Olympic 100 m title.[7][66] In the 200 m final, Fraser-Pryce lowered her personal best to 22.09 s, but was unable to overhaul American Allyson Felix, who took the gold in 21.88 s.[67][68] Fraser-Pryce earned her second silver medal in the 4 × 100 m relay, running alongside Campbell-Brown, Sherone Simpson and Kerron Stewart.[69] Their finishing time of 41.41 s was a new Jamaican record, but well behind the United States' world record of 40.82 s.[69][70]

 
Fraser-Pryce after her 200 m win at the 2013 World Championships.

Overall, Jamaica had another strong showing in athletics at the 2012 Olympics.[51][71] In addition to Fraser-Pryce retaining her title, Bolt also continued his winning streak on the men's side, leading a top-two finish for Jamaica in the 100 m, a sweep of the medals in the 200 m,[72] and a new world record in the 4 × 100 m relay.[73] Following the Olympics, Fraser-Pryce closed out her successful season by winning the 100 m title at the 2012 Diamond League.[74]

The next year, Fraser-Pryce continued to show her consistency. At the 2013 World Championships, held in Moscow, she became the first woman ever to sweep the 100 m, 200 m and 4 × 100 m at a single championship.[22][75] Her achievements were matched by Usain Bolt in the men’s events, giving Jamaica a clean sweep of the sprinting gold medals at the championships.[76] Fraser-Pryce attributed her successful year to an increase in focus on her track career (after finishing school in November 2012)[77] and a new training regimen that emphasised the 200 m.[78][79] She had her first 100 m race of the season in January, posting 11.47 s for an easy victory at the Kingston Invitational.[75] In May and June, she enjoyed Diamond League wins in both the 100 m and 200 m in Doha, Shanghai and the Prefontaine Classic.[75] For the second consecutive year, she won the 200 m title at the Jamaican Championships, clocking 22.13 s.[75][80]

Leading up to the World Championships, Fraser-Pryce held world-leading times in the 100 m (10.77 s) and 200 m (22.13 s).[75] In the 100 m final, she broke clear into an unassailable lead right from the start, and crossed the finish line in a new world best of 10.71 s.[81][82] Her 0.22-second margin of victory ahead of silver medallist Murielle Ahouré of the Ivory Coast (10.93 s) was the largest in World Championship history.[83][84] Defending champion Carmelita Jeter, the best placed of the four Americans in the final, collected bronze in 10.94 s.[81] By claiming a second world title, Fraser-Pryce became the only woman to win the 100 m twice at both the Olympics (2008, 2012) and the World Championships (2009, 2013).[6][83] In the 200 m final, she earned her first global title over the distance in 22.17 s, ahead of Ahouré and Nigeria's Blessing Okagbare.[78][85] Finally, as the anchor for Jamaica's 4 × 100 m relay team, she also secured her third win in a new championship record of 41.29 s.[32][86]

Fraser-Pryce registered the three fastest 100 m times of 2013 and the two fastest in the 200 m.[75] She won six Diamond League races throughout the season (four in the 100 m and two in the 200 m) to clinch the Diamond League titles for both distances.[75] Owing to her achievements on the track throughout the season, she was named the IAAF World Athlete of the Year.[87][88]

2014–2015: Indoor debut and third world titleEdit

 
Fraser-Pryce celebrating her 60 m win at the 2014 World Indoor Championships.

On the heels of a successful 2013 season, Fraser-Pryce made her World Indoor Championships debut in Sopot, Poland in March 2014.[87] Early into her 20104 season, she posted 7.11 s in an outdoor 60 m race in Kingston (Jamaica does not have indoor facilities). Months later in Birmingham, she finished second in her only 60 m loss of the season to world 100 m and 200 m silver medallist Murielle Ahouré.[87] She decided to compete at the World Indoor Championships as part of her preparation for her outdoor season.[87]

In Sopot, she won both her heat and semifinal in 7.12 s and 7.08 s respectively.[89][90] In the 60 m final, she had her usual quick start and finished ahead of Ahouré in a world-leading 6.98 s.[87][91] Her winning time, which she achieved with no specific preparation for the 60 m, was the fastest at the championships since 1999, and made her the seventh fastest in history at the time.[22][92] In claiming gold, she gave Jamaica its fourth 60 m win in the 16-year history of the biennial championships.[87] She also became the first woman in history to hold world titles in the 60 m, 100 m, 200 m and 4 × 100 m at the same time.[87] This was Fraser-Pryce's last outing at an indoor tournament until 2020.[93]

 
Fraser-Pryce, center, collecting her third gold medal in the 100 m at the 2015 World Championships.

There were no major outdoor championships in 2014. In the Diamond League, she won the 100 m in Doha in early May, posting 11.13 s.[94] However, she struggled with shin splints for the rest of her season, resulting in poor showings on the international circuit.[95] She first withdrew from the Shanghai meet in mid-May, before finishing last in the 200 m at the Prefontaine Classic, and seventh in the 100 m in Rome.[95] She went on to compete in the IAAF World Relays in Nassau, Bahamas later that month, where the Jamaican team finished third in the 4 × 200 metres relay in 1:30.04 s, behind the United States (1:29.45 s) and Great Britain (1:29.61 s).[96] In June, she again withdrew from the Adidas Grand Prix, and returned to the track in July at the Glasgow Grand Prix, where she finished second in the 100 m in 11.10 s.[95][97] At the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, she ran only in the 4 × 100 m relay, winning gold in 41.83 s.[97][98]

In 2015, Fraser-Pryce opted not to defend her 200 m title at the Beijing World Championships.[99][100] At a Diamond League meet in Paris, she explained that her coach wanted to shift focus back to her signature event to sharpen her starting technique and return to her 2008 form.[99] She started the season strong, setting an early world lead of 10.81 s at the Prefontaine Classic in May.[101] She lowered the mark to 10.79 s at the Jamaican Championships at the end of June, and a week later, set a new world lead and meet record of 10.74 s in Paris.[101][102]

At the World Championships, Fraser-Pyrce posted 10.88 s in her 100 m heat, then 10.82 s to win her semifinal.[103][104] In the 100 m final, she led from start to finish, fending off a late challenge from Dutch sprinter Dafne Schippers to claim gold in 10.76 s.[105][106] Schippers won silver in 10.81 s, while American Tori Bowie earned bronze in 10.86 s.[106] With her win, Fraser-Pryce became the second woman after American Marion Jones to defend a 100 m world title, and the only woman to win the title three times.[18][107] Although happy for the win, she was dissatisfied with her time, stating, "I'm getting tired of 10.7s...I definitely think a 10.6 is there. Hopefully I will get it together."[105] She also anchored the women's 4 × 100 m relay team, consisting of Veronica Campbell-Brown, Natasha Morrison and protégé Elaine Thompson, to gold.[32] Their 41.07 s was the second fastest time in history and improved on the previous championship record they set in 2013.[108][109]

With the exception of a fifth-place finish in her first race of the year, Fraser-Pryce went undefeated in her remaining ten races in 2015. She capped her season with Diamond League wins in Zürich (10.93 s) and Padova (10.98 s) to take the overall 100 m title for the third time in her career.[110]

2016: Olympic bronze and brief split from coachEdit

"I think 2016 was that year that mentally tested me. Even in training there were so many moments I cried, I was angry, I was upset, I didn't know what to do."

– Fraser-Pryce reflecting on her difficult 2016 season.[111]

With a record three world titles and two Olympic titles, Fraser-Pryce had become the most decorated female 100 m sprinter of all time.[106][112] For the upcoming 2016 Rio Olympics, she set her sights on becoming the first woman to win three consecutive Olympic 100 m titles.[113][112] Her season did not go as planned, however, after an injury caused chronic inflammation and restricted movement to her toe, hindering her preparations.[112][114] After withdrawing from several events earlier in the year, she opened her season in May at the Prefontaine Classic, finishing last in 11.18 s.[115][116]

In the weeks before the Olympics, Fraser-Pryce struggled to reach form, clocking 11.25 s in Italy and 11.06 s at the London Grand Prix.[44][117] Meanwhile, her training partner Elaine Thompson emerged as the top contender for Olympic gold.[118] Thompson ran a world-leading 10.70 s to defeat Fraser-Pryce at the Jamaican Olympic Trials, matching Fraser-Pryce's national record as well as her fourth-place ranking on the all-time list.[118][119] In a highly competitive season that saw many of her rivals post multiple sub-10.90 s times, Fraser-Pryce held a season's best of 10.93 s, ranking her eighth fastest in the world that year.[44][119] Although she initially planned to contest the sprint double, she decided not to run in the 200 m.[112]

At the Olympics in Rio, Fraser-Pryce qualified as joint fastest for the final with Thompson, posting a new season's best of 10.88 s.[120][121] She was in visible discomfort after winning her semifinal, crying and limping off the track.[122] In the 100 m final, she battled to the finish in a season’s best 10.86 s to win bronze.[123][124] Thompson secured Jamaica's third successive 100 m Olympic gold in 10.71 s, while Tori Bowie earned silver in 10.83 s.[123][125] Although she fell short of defending her Olympic crown, Fraser-Pryce revealed that she had been pessimistic about reaching the final, and described her hard-fought bronze medal as her "greatest ever."[122] Closing out the Olympics, she collected a silver medal as part of the women's 4 × 100 metres relay team in a season's best 41.36 s.[126] The United States claimed their second consecutive gold in this event in 41.01 s.[126]

After the Olympics, Fraser-Pryce briefly parted ways with longtime coach Stephen Francis, whom she shared with Thompson.[127] At the end of August, Francis disclosed that Fraser-Pryce was unhappy with their preparation for the Olympics, and expressed a lack of confidence in Francis' training programme.[127][128] He also hinted at her dissatisfaction with her timings over the years, specifically in being unable to lower her 10.70 s personal best from 2012.[128] However, with no official statement, Fraser-Pryce and her coach reconciled and she resumed training at the MVP Track Club in November of that year.[129]

2017–present: Motherhood and comebackEdit

 
Fraser-Pryce (centre) at the start of the 100 m final at the 2019 World Championships.

In early 2017, Fraser-Pryce announced that she was pregnant and would not be defending her title at the 2017 World Championships in London.[49] She went into labour while watching the world 100 m final that year, and gave birth the next day via emergency C-section.[130][131] She began training ten weeks after her son Zyon's birth, and returned to competition less than a year later. Her journey back was both physically and mentally challenging: "My stomach would be in pain...I couldn’t [train] abdominals properly. I [wondered] whether my body would allow me to put the level of work in to get it done.”[130][132] Despite expectations that she would retire, she publicly promised a major comeback.[130]

In 2018, Fraser-Pryce took to the international circuit for several Diamond League meets, all while breastfeeding for the first 15 months.[131] After eight races, she posted her first sub-11-second clocking with 10.98 s at the London Grand Prix in July.[133] She also competed in the 4 × 100 m at the 2018 Athletics World Cup, winning silver behind Great Britain. In August, she ran 11.18 s for fifth place at the Toronto North American, Central American and Caribbean Athletic Association (NACAC) Championships, where she also earned silver behind the United States in the 4 × 100 m relay.[134][135]

"Standing here having done it again at 32, and holding my baby, is a dream come true....I can’t believe it. I worked so hard to be back."

– Fraser-Pryce on her victory at the 2019 World Championships.[136]

After ending her 2018 season ranked 10th in the world in the 100 m,[137] Fraser-Pryce made steady progress with her training into the 2019 season. At the Jamaican Championships in June, she finished second to double Olympic champion Elaine Thompson in both the 100 m and the 200 m.[111] Although Thompson won by a comfortable margin in the 200 m, the 100 m final ended with both sprinters sharing the world-leading time of 10.73 s, and Thompson declared the winner in a photo finish.[138][139] Fraser-Pryce’s 10.73 s in this race became the fastest non-winning time in history.[140] Fraser-Pryce returned to the top of women's sprinting for the remainder of the 2019 season, running at close to personal best times in the 100 m,[141] and recording three of the five fastest times of the year.[49][111] In August, she won 200 m gold at the 2019 Pan American Games, setting a new championship record of 22.43 s.[111][142] However, after losing to Thompson at the Jamaican Championships in June, the two did not meet until the 2019 Doha World Championships, in one of the event's most highly anticipated showdowns.[49][111]

In Doha, Fraser-Pryce cruised to 10.80 s in the 100 m heats, the fastest first-round time in World Championships history.[143] She followed with 10.81 s in the semifinal, the fastest qualifying time ahead of the final.[136][144] In the 100 m final, she outpaced the field from the start, powering away to her fourth title in a world-leading 10.71 s—her fastest time since 2013, and the second fastest time of her career.[132][145][146] Her rival Thompson finished fourth in 10.93 s.[132] With this achievement, she became the oldest woman ever and first mother since American Gwen Torrence at the 1995 World Championships to win a 100 m global title.[131][147] Fraser-Pryce took particular satisfaction in her win, calling it "a victory for motherhood," and brought her two-year-old son on her victory lap around the stadium.[148][149] She added a second gold medal at the championships by running the second leg of the Jamaican 4 × 100 m relay team, her ninth world title overall.[32] She had also planned to contest the 200 m, but later withdrew.[150]

In February 2020, Fraser-Pryce won the 60 m at the Muller Indoor Athletics Grand Prix, clocking 7.16 s.[93] It was her first indoor competition since she won gold in Sopot back in 2014.[93] Her 2020 season was put on hold in early spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which also led to the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics.[151] She has announced that she will retire after the 2022 World Championships.[32][130]

Legacy and achievementsEdit

"We need to put [Fraser-Pryce's] 100 m career into perspective. 2x Olympic 100 champ. Only 2 other women have ever done that. 4x World Champ 100. No other woman has ever done that. And 100m is one of the most difficult events to repeat as champion! Undisputed G.O.A.T. (Greatest of all time)."

– Retired Olympian Michael Johnson on Fraser-Pryce's 2019 win.[152]

Fraser-Pryce is widely recognized as one of the greatest sprinters in history.[2][32] In 2019, the Olympic Channel wrote, "Two consecutive Olympic titles in the 100m, four world titles in the same distance, six Olympic medals in total, eleven World Championship medals overall, nine of which are gold, including in the 200m...: Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce is one of, if not the, greatest female sprinters of all time."[32] Track & Field News listed her at number one on their annual world 100 m rankings in 2008, 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2019.[153] In the 200 m, they ranked her at number two in 2012 and number one in 2013.[154] In 2020, they ranked her as the top female 100 m sprinter of the 2010s decade, as well as the fifth greatest in the 200 m.[155] She was also ranked at number two in the 100 m for the 2000s decade, behind Veronica Campbell-Brown.[155] Sean Ingle of The Guardian lauded her achievements after the 2019 World Championships, insisting that her win gave her "legitimate claim to be considered the greatest ever."[156] Writing for CNN, Ben Church also admired her longevity, noting that her 2019 title came 11 years after her first Olympic title, with her winning time just 0.01 seconds shy of her seven-year-old personal best.[157] In 2019, she was listed among BBC's 100 inspiring and influential women in the world.[158] In 2020, after her maternity leave and return, World Athletics included her on their list of the 10 greatest comebacks in athletics.[137]

 
Fraser-Pryce with her Diamond League trophy in 2013.

Fraser-Pryce has been praised for consistently delivering at major championships, winning six of the eight global 100 m titles she has contested between 2008 and 2019.[50] Her coach Stephen Francis stated that she had "mastered the trick of staying good," adding, "It’s far easier to get good than to stay good... a lot of natural factors mitigate against you staying at number one, but [she has] developed a mindset that keeps her where she is."[159] She has registered 14 sub-10.80 s timings in the 100 m, more than any other woman in history, and one ahead of sprinter Marion Jones.[50][156] She has run below this mark in six separate seasons (the most for any female), and has won all of her global championship titles with sub-10.80 performances.[160] In a single season, she has tallied the second most sub-10.80 s clockings (four in 2019), tied with Florence Griffith Joyner and second to Marion Jones (nine).[49][160] As of December 2019, Fraser-Pryce is second to Merlene Ottey with 51 sub-11 s clockings.[161] She is the fastest mother in history, and in 2019 joined Americans Gwen Torrence and Wilma Rudolph, as well as Dutch sprinter Fanny Blankers-Koen, as the only mothers to win a global 100 m title.[131][162] With her fourth title, Fraser-Pryce also surpassed Usain Bolt and Americans Carl Lewis and Maurice Greene, who each have three world titles in the 100 m.[148]

My secret is just staying humble...know who you are as a person and athlete and just continue to work hard.

— Fraser-Pryce on her longevity in track and field.[157]

Despite her success, her profile on a global scale during the early 2010s decade was largely eclipsed by countryman Usain Bolt.[113][112] On the eve of the 2016 Olympics, The Washington Post alluded to this disparity with the headline "A Jamaican will go for a third gold medal in Rio — and it’s not who you think."[113] Likewise, CNN wrote that Fraser-Pryce had matched Bolt "medal for medal over 100 m" at every global championship, but "somehow, that isn't common knowledge."[112] While critical of the gender gap in athletics, Fraser-Pryce has insisted that she has never felt overshadowed.[7][163] She also asserted that the lack of consistently fast times in women's sprinting have contributed to the imbalance: "I have always said it's a man's world...[but] when you have male athletes [running]... 9.5s as opposed to female athletes running 10.8s, there is no 'wow' to the event."[100] In 2019, sports writer Steve Keating declared Fraser-Pryce the new face of athletics, adding that the birth of her son and her return to the top added to her legacy.[148]

After her triple gold medal win at the 2013 World Championships, Fraser-Pryce stated that fellow athletes were critical of her success, with some suggesting that she had used performance enhancing drugs.[164] Although she achieved world-leading times in the 100 m and 200 m in 2013, she denied using banned substances, pointing out that her performances on the track have been consistent with her progression from previous seasons.[164] In November 2013, she threatened to boycott international competitions, citing the lacklustre approach of Jamaica's Athletics Administrative Authority in defending Jamaican athletes against these "hurtful" accusations.[165][166]

In 2019, Fraser-Pryce published the children's book I Am a Promise, based on the life lessons she learned growing up and competing as an athlete.[167]

Awards and recognitionEdit

In 2008, Fraser-Pryce was honoured with the Order of Distinction for her achievements in athletics.[168] In October 2018, she was also honoured with a statue at the Jamaica National Stadium in Kingston, Jamaica.[169] During the ceremony, Minister of Sports Olivia Grange hailed her a role model for young girls and a Jamaican "modern-day hero."[169]

The recipient of many accolades in Jamaica, she has won the JAAA's Golden Cleats Award for Female Athlete of the Year four times: 2009, 2012, 2013 and 2015.[170] She has also received the Jamaican Sportsperson of the Year award four times: 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2019.[171]

On the international scene, she has been nominated for the Laureus World Sports Award for Sportswoman of the Year five times: 2010, 2013, 2014, 2016 and 2019.[172] After she completed the sprint triple at the 2013 Moscow World Championships, she was named IAAF World Athlete of the Year, becoming the first Jamaican woman to win since Merlene Ottey in 1990. In accepting her award, she exclaimed, "I'm shocked and excited. It's something that has been a dream of mine."[173][87] In December 2019, she won Best Female Athlete at the inaugural Panam Sports Awards.[174]

Technique and running styleEdit

Fraser-Pryce's signature style is to start fast and hold off the closers, seen here in her 2015 World Championship final.

Under the guidance of her coach Stephen Francis, Fraser-Pryce honed her technique to become one of the most decorated track athletes of all time.[2][111] She stated that none of her technique came naturally, and that when she began competing, she ran with an exaggerated forward lean: "I had a really bad running posture, like I ran, literally, dropping on my face. Stephen saw all of this and, as a coach, he analyzed and he took a year to actually go through my core needs."[15][175] By 2008, she had improved her posture and sharpened her start, including her first stride, the placement of her arms and the different phases of the sprint.[175] Over time, her technique became second nature: "You feel all of your phases. Because of how the body is, you can feel it, like a sixth sense. So I focus on nailing each phase properly, and if I’m able to, then I know that’s history.”[175]

Fraser-Pryce's trademark is her explosive starts, which have earned her the nickname "Pocket Rocket."[62][81] Her style involves “bolting to the lead”[176] with maximum velocity and then "maintaining her position through to the finish.”[176] Jon Mulkeen of World Athletics described her starting technique as "devastating...her best weapon,"[81] while sports writer Steve Landells declared, "her ability to shift her legs over the first five metres remains the envy of the world."[31] In a study of her performance in the 2009 world 100 m final (when she ran 10.73 s), sports scientists Rolf Graubner and Eberhard Nixdorf reported her 30 m split to be 4.02 s, a level of acceleration consistent with a male 10.40 s runner.[177] By halfway into the race, she held a three-metre lead on the rest of the field.[31][177] Despite her quick starts, she stated, "I think my strength is actually when I get out of my drive phase at 30 (metres). My second 30 is actually very good, where my turnovers are very quick."[77]

At just under 5 feet and 3 inches tall,[1] Fraser-Pryce is more petite than most female sprinters.[15][178] She revealed that when she started training at the University of Technology, "everyone [said] I was too short and I shouldn't think about running fast."[15] A prototypical stride rate runner, she relies on cadence and a high stride frequency (i.e. leg speed) in her races, although she also has "well developed" stride length.[176][177] On average, she takes 50 strides to complete the 100 m, and has a cadence of about 286 steps per minute.[179] In their analysis, Graubner and Nixdorf found that she covered her 2009 final in 49.58 strides — equivalent to an average of two metres per step, with her longest strides of 2.2 m exhibited over the last 20 m of her race.[177] Her peak stride frequency (at 20 to 40 m into the race) averaged around 4.91 hertz.[177][179]

Personal lifeEdit

In November 2012, Fraser-Pryce graduated from the University of Technology with a Bachelor of Science in Child and Adolescent Development.[180] In 2016, she announced that she would pursue a Master of Science in Applied Psychology at the University of the West Indies.[112] A committed Christian,[181] she married Jason Pryce in 2011,[39] and announced her pregnancy in early 2017.[182] On her Facebook page she wrote, "All my focus heading into training for my 2017 season was on getting healthy and putting myself in the best possible fitness to successfully defend my title in London 2017, but ... here I am thinking about being the greatest mother I can be."[182] On 7 August 2017, she and her husband welcomed a son named Zyon.[181]

Sponsorship, charities and businessEdit

Fraser-Pryce has signed sponsorship deals with Digicel, GraceKennedy and Nike.[183] To promote her chase for Olympic glory in 2016, Nike released a series of promotional videos of her training sessions for the 100 m.[175]

Fraser-Pryce has supported many causes throughout her career. She was named as the first UNICEF National Goodwill Ambassador for Jamaica in February 2010.[184] That year, she was also named Grace Goodwill Ambassador for Peace in a partnership with Grace Foods and not-for-profit organisation PALS (Peace and Love in Society).[185] She also created the Pocket Rocket Foundation, which supports high school athletes in financial need.[181][183]

Known for frequently changing her hairstyle during track season, she launched a hair salon named Chic Hair Ja in 2013.[186]

Career statisticsEdit

Personal bestsEdit

Type Event Time (s) Date Place Notes
Outdoor 100 metres 10.70 29 June 2012 Kingston, Jamaica +0.6 m/s (wind); NR, 4th fastest of all time
200 metres 22.09 8 August 2012 London, United Kingdom −0.2 m/s (wind)
400 metres 54.93 5 March 2011 Kingston, Jamaica
Indoor 60 metres 6.98 9 March 2014 Sopot, Poland 8th fastest of all time

Season's best and rankingsEdit

Season's best progression in the 100 m and 200 m since 2002.[187]

Season's best 100 m and 200 m times, with world rank in parentheses (top 20 only).[187][188]

Year 100 metres 200 metres
2002 12.38 24.85
2003 11.57
2004 11.72 24.08
2005 11.72
2006 11.74
2007 11.31 24.13
2008 10.78 (1) 22.15 (6)
2009 10.73 (2) 22.58 (18)
2010
2011 10.95 (6) 22.59 (14)
2012 10.70 (1) 22.09 (2)
2013 10.71 (1) 22.13 (1)
2014 11.01 (8) 22.53 (13)
2015 10.74 (1) 22.37 (17)
2016 10.86 (8) 23.15
2017
2018 10.98 (10)
2019 10.71 (1) 22.22 (7)
2020 10.86 (2) 22.57 (6)

International competitionsEdit

Year Competition Venue Position Event Notes
Representing   Jamaica
2002 Central American and Caribbean
Junior Championships (U-17)
Bridgetown, Barbados 4th 200 m 25.24
(−1.0 m/s)
1st 4×100 m relay 45.33 CR
2005 CARIFTA Games (U-20) Bacolet, Trinidad and Tobago 3rd 100 m 11.73
(+0.9 m/s)
1st 4×100 m relay 44.53
2007 World Championships Osaka, Japan 2nd 4×100 m relay 42.70 SB
2008 Olympic Games Beijing, China 1st 100 m 10.78 PB
(±0.0 m/s)
DNF 4×100 m relay Dropped baton
2009 World Championships Berlin, Germany 1st 100 m 10.73 WL NR
(+0.1 m/s)
1st 4×100 m relay 42.06
2011 World Championships Daegu, South Korea 4th 100 m 10.99
(−1.4 m/s)
2nd 4×100 m relay 41.70 NR
2012 Olympic Games London, United Kingdom 1st 100 m 10.75
(+1.5 m/s)
2nd 200 m 22.09 PB
(−0.2 m/s)
2nd 4×100 m relay 41.41 NR
2013 World Championships Moscow, Russia 1st 100 m 10.71 WL
(−0.3 m/s)
1st 200 m 22.17
(−0.3 m/s)
1st 4×100 m relay 41.29 CR
2014 World Indoor Championships Sopot, Poland 1st 60 m 6.98 WL PB
Commonwealth Games Glasgow, United Kingdom 1st 4×100 m relay 41.83 GR
World Relays Nassau, Bahamas 3rd 4×200 m relay 1:30.04 NR
2015 World Championships Beijing, China 1st 100 m 10.76
(−0.3 m/s)
1st 4×100 m relay 41.07 CR
2016 Olympic Games Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 3rd 100 m 10.86 SB
(+0.5 m/s)
2nd 4×100 m relay 41.36 SB
2018 NACAC Championships Toronto, Canada 5th 100 m 11.18
2nd 4×100 m relay 43.33
Athletics World Cup London, United Kingdom 2nd 4×100 m relay 42.60
2019 World Relays Yokohama, Japan 3rd 4×200 m relay 1:33.21
Pan American Games Lima, Peru 1st 200 m 22.43 GR
World Championships Doha, Qatar 1st 100 m 10.71 WL
(+0.1 m/s)
1st 4×100 m relay 41.44 WL

Circuit winsEdit

National titlesEdit

  • Jamaican Championships
    • 2009: 100 m
    • 2012: 100 m, 200 m
    • 2013: 200 m
    • 2015: 100 m
  • Jamaican U18 Championships
    • 2002: 200 m

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

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External linksEdit

VideosEdit

Awards
Preceded by
Allyson Felix
IAAF World Athlete of the Year
2013
Succeeded by
Valerie Adams
Olympic Games
Preceded by
Usain Bolt
Flagbearer for   Jamaica
Rio de Janeiro 2016
Succeeded by
Incumbent