Fraser-Pryce, in a league of her own

Fraser-Pryce, in a league of her own

 In the giant shadow of Usain Bolt, it is hard for anyone else to get a glimpse of the spotlight, let alone bask in it.

Ask Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce. The pint-sized Jamaican has been the top of line sprinter among women for the last seven years. She should have been a superstar of her sport but her feats, more often than not, get buried under the avalanche of words that accompany every Usain Bolt dash.

It was no different on Monday night in Beijing, when the 29-year-old picked up her third World Championship 100M gold – the first to do so in the 32-year history of the competition – in a solid performance.

She was fast through the mixed zone where the television and print media await with short questions. And when she arrived for the post-race press conference, the media room was only half-full in contrast to the previous day when Bolt had addressed a crowded hall with no standing room. Not that Fraser-Pryce is complaining.

“Usain ran 9.7, I ran 10.7, it’s not about upstaging anyone. In his own way, he is who he is and I am what I am. For me, it’s an honour to represent my country and I am proud of it,” said Fraser-Pryce, in all humility.

The two Jamaicans have traversed similar paths ever since they both burst into limelight at the 2008 Olympic Games with spectacular victories in the 100M. They both defended their titles in London and while Bolt has nine World Championship gold medals, Fraser-Pryce has six – three in 100M, one in 200M (2013) and two in 4x100M (2009 and 2013).

“When I came here in 2008, nobody knew who I was, I didn’t know who I was. I was enjoying the moment and won. So now, coming back being the person I am with all those accomplishments, it kind of puts things in perspective,” she said.

The contrasts between Fraser-Pryce and Bolt are also striking. While Bolt towers over his compatriot on charisma quotient, he also owns two world records in individual races – something Fraser-Pryce would love to achieve. And then there is that positive dope test and a six-month ban that the women’s champion endured back in 2010, a result she said was caused by a painkiller for toothache.

The 100M mark of 10.49 seconds, set by Florence Griffith Joyner in 1988, is certainly out of her reach but Fraser-Pryce would love to dip under her personal best of 10.70, which was her goal on Monday.

“I am getting tired of 10.7,” she said. “I really wanted to put in a good race together today. Hopefully, in the next race I will get the time I am working for. I definitely think 10.6 is there. Hopefully, I will get it together,” she said.

Besides her quicksilver running, Fraser-Pryce also has made a name for her hairstyle. In Moscow two years ago, she turned up with pink hair. This time, she caught the attention with green hair bedecked with yellow flowers.

“I like colours. I like to be bright and bold. It’s about being happy and relaxed at the start line. It helps me to stay happy and relaxed,” said the champion, who will be back again for the relays, hoping to add more gold to her collection and stay out of Bolt’s shadow.

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