ABOVE PHOTO: Jamaica’s Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, center, hands off to Jonielle Smith, right, during a women’s 4×100 meter relay semifinal at the World Athletics Championships in Doha, Qatar. On Friday, June 25, 2021, Fraser-Pryce cruised to a victory in the 100 meters at Jamaican national championships and will head to Tokyo in search of her third Olympic gold medal. (AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty, File)
By Eddie Pells and Pat Graham
Every time Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce steps on the track, some sort of record is in jeopardy.
At the top of that list, of course, is Florence Griffith Joyner’s 33-year-old mark in the 100 meters.
At the upcoming Olympics, Fraser-Pryce, the 34-year-old mother from Jamaica, also could become the oldest person to win an individual Olympic sprint. And, she could become the first woman to win three 100-meter gold medals at the Games.
Not bad for an athlete who feared her career was over four years ago when she became pregnant, but who rebounded to win the world championship in 2019.
“Commitment is everything — today’s failure prepares you for tomorrow’s success,” Fraser-Pryce tweeted recently. “There’s no failure in progress, so keep going and push through.”
Where the world used to look to another Jamaican, Usain Bolt, to rewrite history at the Olympics, Bolt’s retirement turns the spotlight over to Fraser-Pryce, who is now the most-accomplished active 100-meter sprinter in the world. The chances for the “Pocket Rocket,” who now calls herself the “Mommy Rocket,” to put her name in the history book starts July 30 in Tokyo. Those chances increased dramatically earlier this month when the runner considered her main threat, American Sha’Carri Richardson, was banned for a positive test for marijuana.
Even without Richardson in the race, the sprints still have star power. Dina Asher-Smith, the British speedster who won 200-meter gold and 100-meter silver at the 2019 world championships, will be in the lineup, along with Shericka Jackson of Jamaica, who is now on the short list of women to run sub-11 seconds in the 100, sub-22 in the 200 and sub-50 in the 400.
“Working hard is definitely paying off, and I’m enjoying it,” Jackson tweeted recently.
Fraser-Pryce will also be a factor in the 200, which she also won at Jamaica’s recent Olympic qualifier; she has a 2012 Olympic silver medal at that distance, as well. That race is also expected to include Asher-Smith; Shaunae Miller-Uibo of the Bahamas, who, because of the Olympic schedule, has to choose between the 200 and 400, and has indicated she wants the 200; and American Gabby Thomas, who ran 21.61 at Olympic trials to become the second-fastest woman in history at the distance, behind only Griffith Joyner.
“Now I’m just going to have to map out a different trajectory for my life,” Thomas said.
On June 5, it was Fraser-Pryce who became the second-fastest woman in history in the 100 — her time of 10.63 declared to the world that she was, indeed, ready for the push to Tokyo.
“Honestly no… I never expected I would run 10.6 and think it’s a good thing because there was no pressure,” Fraser-Pryce said when she posted the time.