IT WOULD BE safe to say that everybody on the island knows her name and could easily pick her out of a crowd.
Most have cheered her on at one point or another, whether on their television screens or at live track and field events.
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, the triple Olympic sprint medallist, can’t go out into the streets without being greeted warmly by Jamaicans from all walks of life.
“Sometimes I am overwhelmed by the support and outpouring of love that I receive from people in Jamaica, especially our children,” she admitted recently. “I can’t go anywhere and not hear, ‘Shelly-Ann’!
“Sometimes you have persons who actually think I am a little baby still, and I get addressed like, ‘Here’s my little girl’, and it is so affectionate. But it is good that I am relatable, and others don’t feel threatened by me and are able to approach me,” the two-time Olympic 100m champion added.
And Fraser-Pryce has earned yet another title, one that could easily role off the lips of Jamaicans at home and abroad. In October, The UWI, Mona conferred the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws (LLD) on Ambassador Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce for her remarkable track achievements.
Speaking recently with UWIMONA Now, the athlete said she was humbled yet elated by the award. “My first reaction was that I was speechless. I didn’t know much about these honorary degrees, but had always heard about them. Then Mr Bruce James [her manager] decided it was a secret, and I wanted to tell everybody. But I could not until I got the official word,” she continued.
“It is great to be able to be recognized as an athlete. For somebody like me, who never thought to be able to have this recognition, to be able to get it is an honour. I feel quite pleased and at the same time humbled to be chosen to be a recipient of the award,” she added.
In 2008, at the age of 21, the petite fresh-faced Fraser-Pryce decimated the competition with her sheer “Pocket Rocket” power, determination and supersonic speed, forcing the world at the Olympics to sit up and take notice.
Concerning her earning the enviable title of “Fastest Woman in the World” during the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games she said: “I try not to get all mushy but I felt good as a Jamaican who never thought I would be a pro-athlete, and I pinch myself daily because of all the things I have accomplished.”
To her, a champion is “somebody who rises no matter what, or finds a way to rise, no matter how difficult the situation. The champion can go beyond and find the extra strength to make it happen”.
During the last Olympic Games, Fraser-Pryce did not let a nagging toe injury prevent her from making herself and her nation proud. She was awarded the bronze medal for her formidable 100m sprint which was won by her compatriot Elaine Thompson.
“I looked at the toe injury, and saw it as an experience and I am better because of it. It happened early in the season from January 2016. I did the best with what I had, and knew it was going to be hard. I don’t make excuses, because I know I have to deal with injuries and the highs and lows. But I was able to put my head in the game and no matter what I was going to give 100 per cent,” she said.
Frazer-Pryce now has her eyes set on defending her 100m title at the IAAF World Championships in London in August 2017.
The former Wolmer’s Girls’ School graduate, who began her trek to track stardom as a youngster, shared the following advice for aspiring athletes: “Be patient. Sometimes we think things will work out how we plan, but timing is everything. You have to be patient.”
The young Christian has also been giving back to young people through her Pocket Rocket Foundation.
“I grew up in an inner-city community, and many of the things I was able to realize and get done was due to a lot of people helping me,” she said. Fraser-Pryce emphasised that this assistance was not “just monetary”, but said people “took the time” to sit down and talk with her.
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