Like wine, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce gets better, and faster, by the year.
The world’s fastest woman isn’t dismissing the possibility of featuring at the 2022 World Championships in Eugene just yet.
The Jamaican, a mother of one, will be 35 then.
Speaking exclusively with NTV in an interview scheduled to air last night, the nine-time world champion confessed her love for Kenyan athletes. Especially multiple steeplechase world champion, Ezekiel Kemboi, and track queen Vivian Cheruiyot, who has since graduated to the marathon.
Fraser-Pryce would love to end her career “closer home” when Eugene, in the state of Oregon, hosts the global competition in July at a new Hayward Field stadium.
The meet was initially scheduled for next year but was pushed back by a year to give way for the Tokyo Olympic Games that were also postponed by a year owing to the coronavirus pandemic.
“It would be nice to finish (my career) so close to home where my friends who’ve always found it difficult to travel far can visit… no one thought it would be possible for me to come back from a C-section and win a championship at 32 years old, but I did, so you never know,” she told me on NTV Sport.
“I was very disappointed by the Olympics’ postponement. It’s like a timeline for me to achieve these things… I have a family now that needs me to take precautions so it was a bummer but there are lives at stake and that’s most important,” Fraser-Pryce added.
The 2020 Olympics would have possibly capped off a remarkable 10 months for the “pocket rocket”, who stormed the history books in Doha last year when she won the 100 metres final in a season best time of 10.71 seconds, to become the only athlete to scoop four 100m world championship gold medals.
The achievement was overshadowed by the fact that Fraser-Pryce did it as a new mother.
“I didn’t sleep at all the night before my final in Doha,” she confesses. “I was so anxious because my last championship had been three years before that.”
She skipped the London 2017 championships to have a baby.
Fraser-Pryce counts the 2019 win and her maiden 100m gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics as her most memorable victories.
Her latest win in Qatar saw the introduction of her son Zyon to the world, as the Jamaican proudly ran her victory lap with the two-year-old boy in her arms.
“When I first found out I was pregnant I was so skeptical, but I want to show women that having a baby doesn’t have to end your career,” the sprinter says with conviction.
She also congratulated friend and countryman Usain Bolt on the birth of his child.
The world might have come to a temporary standstill due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but luckily, the double Olympic gold medalist’s dreams haven’t suffered the same limitations. Fraser-Pryce religiously wakes up at 5:30am to beat the scorching sun for her work-out routine. It’s a word she admittedly likes.
“I’m a routine sort of person.”
However, life in 2020 has been anything but a regular pattern for the Jamaican star, who is speculated to have switched coaches in preparation for her final Summer Games.
“I train at the national stadium and we have to stay six feet apart while being in groups of no more than 10,” Fraser-Pryce explains.
“Then I have an afternoon session where I do gym or plyometrics.”
The Olympian mulls over having to run in an empty stadium if the pandemic isn’t controlled by the time of the Tokyo Games.
“I love the energy from the crowd… we’re used to having stadiums full of people in Jamaica, so it will be weird but we’ll handle it if it gets there.”
Kenya and Jamaica share a common love for athletics.
Kenya is famous for its middle and long distance domination, while the Caribbean nation commands the shorter distances.
“My favorite Kenyan athlete is Ezekiel Kemboi,” Fraser-Pryce says animatedly. “He’s my friend and I would always want to see him win so that he could dance…I also love Vivian (Cheruiyot).”
Comments which Kemboi appreciates. “She’s the best sprinter,” Kemboi told Nation Sport after learning of Fraser-Pryce’s shout-out.
“She’s been consistent for so long, and she’s my very good friend,” the steeplechase legend said from Eldoret.
Meanwhile, Fraser-Pryce, who wears many hats, looks ahead to life beyond the track.
“I’ll want to get my Masters and get into child or athlete counseling when athletics is done one day,” says the woman who is arguably the greatest female sprinter of all time.