JAMAICAN sprint legend Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce has already battled her way from abject poverty to a level of relative riches that will allow her to give her son Zyon a more comfortable upbringing than she experienced.
Yet, the engaging 1.52-metre 32-year-old ‘pocket rocket’ is not done yet.
The enduring Fraser-Pryce won the first of her two Olympic 100-metre titles in 2008. She has four individual World Athletics Championships golds. In 2013, in Moscow, she became only the third woman to achieve a sprint double and could repeat the historic feat in Doha.
Her main rivals for the 100m, which gets underway on Saturday, are likely to be compatriot Elaine Thompson and Briton Dina Asher-Smith.
Yet Fraser-Pryce is fortunate to even be running after missing the 2017 season with a difficult pregnancy.
“Honestly, I think my son kind of put things in perspective, where I can say, ‘I’m OK, I have my son, now I’ve achieved so much, but I still want more,'” she told sports and pop culture website The Undefeated last year.
Fraser-Pryce may want more from the track but she has plenty going on off it.
She owns a hair salon – not a great surprise given her penchant for dyeing her hair exotic colours. She also spends a lot of time talking to youngsters in her community about improving their lives.
“If you understand Shelly, she’s a behind-the-scenes person,” her local priest, Winston Jackson, told Jamaican newspaper The Gleaner in 2012.
“If she’s going to help somebody, she will do it in private. She doesn’t like all the excitement.”
Her work with children has a personal side after a childhood in a violent ghetto in Kingston – a cousin was shot dead close to the family home – but where she refused to accept her lot was to just survive.
Much of this steeliness was infused into her psyche by her mother, Maxine who brought Shelly-Ann and her two brothers up on her own in the Waterhouse neighbourhood, telling her daughter: ‘you have a talent, go and use it.’
“I love my community and I love the fact that this is where I’m from and even though sometimes it’s challenging to see some of the young people that I grew up with not making it -— not doing better for themselves —- I want [them] to understand that I embody everything that we are,” Fraser-Pryce told The Undefeated.
“For me, being a part of the community still, knowing that I am who I am now, I think it gives them hope and I want to always have the young people in my community believe that anything is possible.”
Fraser-Pryce was at least able to repay part of what she owed her mother with the money that track success brought.
In the Fraser household, things were tough because there was often no money, even for food, if Maxine didn’t have a successful day.
“She was strict with us and worked hard as a street vendor to make sure we went to a good school,” Fraser-Pryce told the Daily Telegraph in 2009.
“It was hard for her. Sometimes, we didn’t have enough to eat. I’d go to school with no lunch money and my school would have to provide it.
“My mom wouldn’t let me go outside. Coming back from school, the gang men sometimes would say things but I would walk by, never answer and my mom would go tell them to leave me alone.” – AFP