Mother’s day: Fraser-Pryce strikes gold to make 100m history

Talent, speed and rainbow-coloured hair – Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce brought it all to the Khalifa International Stadium on Sunday night when she stormed to Doha 2019 World Championships gold to become the most decorated 100m runner in the event’s history.

After two years maternity leave and three since her last global championships, Jamaica’s flamboyant sprint queen claimed a record fourth title to surpass three-time men’s champions Carl Lewis, Maurice Green and Usain Bolt on the world 100m honours board.

But the woman who now has eight world titles in all to go with her two Olympic golds, has a new force driving her desire for medals – her two-year-old son, Zyon, who joined her on the track for post-race celebrations, beaming with a baby son’s bemused pride as his mother paraded him around the Khalifa.

DOHA, QATAR – SEPTEMBER 29: Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce of Jamaica celebrates winning the Women’s 100 Metres final during day three of 17th IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019 at Khalifa International Stadium on September 29, 2019 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)“Standing here having done it again at 32, and holding my baby, is a dream come true,” said Fraser-Pryce, her tired bundle of joy still snuggled against her shoulder.

“I had no sleep last night. The last time I was at a major championships was 2016 so I just could not sleep with nerves. But with mental toughness you will get what you want.

“I can’t believe it. I worked so hard to be back. I’m so excited to come out with victory.”

Her winning time of 10.71 seconds was an agonising 0.01 outside Marion Jones’ championships record and a fraction quicker than her performance at Berlin in 2009 when she took her first title as a bubbly 22-year-old with the world at her feet.

A full decade later, the so-called ‘Pocket Rocket’ is still powering out of the blocks to leave the rest of the world’s best sprinters trailing in her wake, including last night her compatriot and successor as Olympic champion, Elaine Thompson, who was fourth, and triple European gold medallist Dina Asher-Smith, who took silver in a British record of 10.83.

Between them Marie-Josée Ta Lou of the Ivory Coast bagged bronze on a half-crocked knee in 10.90.

Much has changed in the diminutive Jamaican’s life over the last 10 years – degrees, businesses, charity foundations and her own hair salon. But most of all marriage to her long-term partner, Jason Pryce, and the difficult birth of her son, Zyon, on 7 August 2017, just one day after the women’s 100m final at the London Worlds.

The birth was an unplanned Caesarean section and she was out of action for nearly 10 weeks, unable to train or even lift weights.

From there to claiming Doha’s pot of gold has been a hard road, but as a new mother Fraser-Pryce found a fresh focus and a different perspective. Far from being a reason to give up, in Zyon she found the strength to come back.

“Zyon and my husband have been my strength,” she said. “When everybody else doubted me, they never did. It’s down to them that I am here again. They are my hope and my promise.

“When I found out I was pregnant I was a nervous wreck. I was so worried about a lot of things. And I was really scared when I had to do a C-section and was out for 10 weeks.

“So it has been a long journey coming back from that, physically and mentally, because I was 30 and everyone else was running fast.

“But when I heard people say I should call it a day, I knew I wasn’t ready to go. I knew I had something left to do and never lost focus on the goal and the dream.”

Now her dream will turn to Tokyo and next year’s Olympics where she will seek a third gold medal some 12 years after she first burst to prominence at the Beijing 2008 Games becoming the first Caribbean woman to win the 100m.

Four years later she defended her title, only the third woman to win two consecutive 100m crowns. And she became the first in history to win three medals in a row when clinching bronze in 2016, despite sustaining an injury in the semi-final.

In between she was amassing world titles like they were going out of fashion, winning the dash in Berlin, Moscow and Beijing, while in 2013 she became the first to do the sprint double in 22 years, the 200m title being her only major victory at the half-lap race before last month’s Pan American Games in Lima where she broke the Games record with a bravura performance.

Her hair that day was Jamaica green, while in Doha she opted for a rainbow effect, a shimmering multi-coloured array from electric blue down to salmon pink.

If the intention was to add a spark to her performance, it certainly worked.

She cruised through Sunday’s semi-final in 10.81 before going a full tenth quicker in the final 90 minutes later.

“I was just trying to make sure I ran the rounds as best I could,” she said. “I wanted to put on a good performance, not just for the crowd but for me as a person.

“Even though there were only a thousand people in the stands, the two most important were there to see me compete. I can’t ask for anything else.

“Having Zyon able to witness tonight is a moment I’ll cherish. He reminded me of how much I had to work and fight as a woman.

“The world believes you should wait until you’re finished to have a baby. But I had other plans.”