Thirty-two years ago, a little girl was gifted to the world in Kingston, Jamaica to a mother, who struggled to put an evening meal on the table for the family.
Three decades on, that little girl – Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce – has brought joy to the poor family. Despite the difficult start to life and sometimes making up stories to represent what she was not, the 32-year-old graduate of Wolmer’s High School for Girls is now the world’s most decorated woman sprinter.
At the ongoing IAAF World Athletics Championships in Doha, Fraser-Pryce has bagged another medal to her trophy cabinet as the world’s fastest woman.
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She is not new to her current record. It becomes her fourth time gaining that bragging rights in the 100 meters race. She first won it a decade ago, then in 2013, 2015 and now.
You need to cover a distance of 100 meters in less than 10.71 seconds to snatch that record from her. Fraser-Pryce now boasts of eight world titles overall, including Olympic 100m titles.
Winning awards seems to be part of the athlete nicknamed “Pocket Rocket”. According to records, she is the first female sprinter to win gold medals in the 100 m, 200 m and 4 × 100 m in a single World Championship.
In 2013, Fraser-Pryce became the first woman to own IAAF World titles at 60 m, 100 m, 200 m and 4 × 100 m relay simultaneously.
So what keeps the sprint legend rising and rising in her chosen field? The answer is simple: be humble.
“My secret is just staying humble and just know who you are as a person and athlete and just continue to work hard,” Fraser-Pryce was quoted by CNN after her Doha feat.
And there is a little secret which spurred her on to her latest glory – her two-year-old son Zyon – who was also among the crowd which witnessed this record.
“It’s a wonderful feeling having my son witnessing this,” a visibly elated Fraser-Pryce continued.
Despite mounting the medal podium countless times to receive diadems, Fraser-Pryce’s career hit a snag at a point.
She was slapped with a six-month ban from athletics in 2010 after testing positive for a banned substance. Fraser-Pryce never gave up. She bounced back; knowing the path to glory is never smooth.
“The road to success has to have obstacles because at the end of the day, when success comes, it will be that much better,” she told the BBC back in 2011 and true to her words success returned much better the years after.
“It was a mistake and I blame no one,” she accepted her fault, adding in that same BBC interview: “I’m a professional athlete – one who’s supposed to set examples – so whatever it is I put in my body it’s up to me to take responsibility for it and I have done that.”
“What happened, happened. I can’t take it back. I wish I could, but I can’t”, she replied with a sigh.
“I live my life very clean and transparent – so I have nothing to hide. If anyone wants to ask a question or to suggest something I’m always open. So, no, I don’t worry about that at all.”
Beyond being humble, Fraser-Pryce acknowledges her husband – once a long-time boyfriend – Jason Pryce has been critical in her life.
“I really appreciate the fact that he’s in my life. He is a big part of the reason that I am successful,” she said.
As the 17th edition of the biennial competition draws to a close in Doha on October 6, 2019, the world will be looking forward to more women breaking records after Fraser-Pryce and USA’s Allyson Felix, who broke one of Usain Bolt’s records last Sunday.