Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce: “Everything has to be defined for women”

“I write my own story,” says Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce. And what a story it has been so far. Two Olympic and nine world championships gold medals have provided the headlines but they only tell part of this sprinting superstar’s tale.

The 34-year-old insists there are still a few chapters to be written, too, with training at her home in Kingston, Jamaica, geared towards tackling the 100m/200m double in Tokyo this year.

If Fraser-Pryce had listened to the received ‘wisdom’ when she took a break from the sport in 2017 to have her son, Zyon, it’s very likely she wouldn’t have stood on a start line again. Trying to begin a comeback, aged 32, would not end well, she was told.

The 2008 and 2012 100m Olympic champion thought differently and, instead, proved an emphatic point by winning the 100m world title in Doha. For Fraser-Pryce, that golden moment at the Khalifa Stadium felt like it was about more than simply winning a race.

“It definitely meant a lot because, as women, there are so many things that we have to deal with and so many curve balls that people throw at us,” she says. “They talk about you having a baby and coming back to competition as if it’s impossible. It may not have happened often but it shouldn’t stop an athlete from continuing their career.

“To be able to come back from that, and being 32 at the time, is another story when people automatically think that when you touch 30 it’s time to sit down when, truth be told, you are a lot more experienced and a lot of people actually perform better in their thirties.”

She adds: “It’s more than just coming back from having a baby but also understanding, as a woman, how important it is to have representation and to have women represent us at every different level and every stage in life – and still be able to succeed at the highest point to give women more hope.

“Everything has to be defined for women, whereas for men it’s almost as if they don’t age or their career is for a lifetime until they decide when [to stop], but for us others want to decide when we should exit.

“For me it’s just good to still be part of the conversation and to inspire other athletes coming in.”

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