Tokyo Olympics: Two-time champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce eyes 'great things'

Fraser-Pryce won gold in the women's 100m at Beijing 2008 and London 2012
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“I’ve had big things. I’m trying to get to the great things.”

In Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce’s world, two Olympic gold medals and nine World Championship titles only count as ‘big’.

Three Olympic gold medals, now that would be ‘great’.

If the Jamaican sprinter justifies favouritism in the 100m, she’d be the first woman to win one individual Olympic track and field event three times, adding to her victories in 2008 and 2012.

“Man, that would be crazy,” she tells BBC Sport with a laugh.

“For me, looking back I never even thought of myself as an Olympian. I never thought that I wanted to be a professional runner, I was just doing it, I wasn’t thinking about it. To see how far I’ve come and the things I’ve been able to accomplish, I still pinch myself because I just cannot believe it.”

She’s also a strong contender in the 200m, and isn’t playing down her chances.

“I am definitely looking forward to standing on the podium in both”.

‘Asher-Smith is very talented’

Despite admitting she is “not young in terms of track”, Fraser-Pryce has shown blistering pace this season.

In June, she clocked 10.63 seconds in the 100m, in doing so becoming the fastest woman alive, and the second-fastest of all time behind American legend Florence Griffith-Joyner.

“I was floored, I couldn’t even believe it. I am excited I was able to come so close [to Griffith-Joyner’s record of 10.49secs, set in 1988] and I am definitely looking forward to going even faster in Tokyo.

“Nobody is going in there thinking ‘OK she already won the medal’ or something like that, you have to go there and actually deliver.”

Fraser-Pryce and Asher-Smith at the 2019 World Athletics Championships
At the 2019 World Athletics Championships in Doha, Asher-Smith finished runner-up to Fraser-Pryce in the 100m final

One of those bidding for the same glory is 200m world champion Dina Asher-Smith. What does Fraser-Pryce think of the Team GB star’s chances?

“I can’t tell you about her chances,” she says, “but Dina is a good athlete, she is very talented. At the end of the day I am not really focused on one individual, because to do that will take yourself out of the competition and I’m not about to take myself out of the competition.”

When both Fraser-Pryce and Asher-Smith line up for the 100m heats next week, they won’t be joined by one of their fiercest rivals, 21-year-old US sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson, who is serving a one-month ban for testing positive for marijuana.

Fraser-Pryce is animated and engaged, but a question about Richardson’s case produces by far her shortest answer.

“I honestly don’t think anything.”

‘My son comes first’

Richardson’s absence aside, there is plenty Fraser-Pryce does think about, including her desire to keep pushing for improvements in the treatment of female athletes.

“Even now in 2021 females are doing so much better, even in terms of track, than our male counterparts, and it’s just about the media or sponsors and just fans overall giving us that respect that we deserve,” she says.

“It’s not easy to get up as women and continue to do this work and push the barriers and not being recognised for our efforts.”

An inevitability of the upcoming Games is that it will bring renewed focus on shoe technology.

But Fraser-Pryce believes it’s wrong to place too much emphasis on the spikes being worn.

“You can give the spike to everyone in the world and it doesn’t mean they will run the same time as you or even better.

“If we just sit and think ‘Oh it’s just the spike’, then it’s one of those shoes that when Dorothy hits them she gets to Oz, and it’s not. It requires work.”

There is no denying Fraser-Pryce has put in the work. This will be her first Olympics as a mother – she gave birth to her son Zyon in 2017.

Climbing her way back to the top of the sport after two years out hasn’t been without difficulty, but is a source of huge pride and has offered her a new sense of perspective.

“It doesn’t matter what happens on the field, my biggest accomplishment will always be my son and being able to come back to competition after having my son is also a big accomplishment, and giving other female athletes hope of whatever it is you want to do in life, you do not allow anybody to dictate what you do and when you stop. You can keep going.

“My son comes first. He doesn’t even understand a gold medal or a silver medal – he’s always upbeat and happy.”

Zyon might not know the difference between gold and silver, but his mother certainly does.

Source: BBC

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