On Saturday, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce made history as the second-fastest female sprinter of all time and the fastest woman alive. The Jamaican track athlete ran the fastest 100-meter sprint in nearly 33 years, coming in second to the late great Florence Griffith Joyner.
Fraser-Pryce, the Jamaican who won the 2019 World title coming back from childbirth, clocked 10.63 seconds at a meet in Kingston, Jamaica.
“Coming out here today, I never expected I would run 10.6, and I think that’s a good thing because there was no pressure. I just wanted to get one run in before national championships, and that’s what I was looking forward to,” Fraser-Pryce told reporters. “I’ve been working so hard, been so patient and to see it finally unfold, I’m just ecstatic.”
This astounding, record-breaking performance completely changed expectations going into the Tokoyo Olympics beginning in July. Before Saturday, the favorite for the 100 meter race was the 21-year-old American Sha’Carri Richardson. Fraser-Pryce’s 10.6 time obliterated all the other competition, and the two-time Olympian now appears the be the favorite.
“I’m just looking forward to what the process will bring,” Fraser-Pryce said. “I’m continuing the work because I did say that this year I wanted nothing more than to break the 10.7 barrier and I did it. But now the focus is on making the national team then taking it from there. This is just one part of the puzzle, so you can’t get too complacent and comfortable.”
Fraser-Pryce’s astounding 10.63 time beat the time of American sprinter Carmelita Jeter, who previously held the second-fastest of all time title. On Twitter, Jeter praised Fraser-Pryce;
“You have come back from having a child and showed the world how talented and driven you are. You are officially the Fastest [Woman] Alive. Keep motivating these young Queens!”
Although it appears to be nothing but a sweet congratulatory post, Jeter’s tweet actually brings up the topic of motherhood in professional sports. When professional athletes become pregnant, these women face many risks. Brands could drop them for endorsements (Allyson Felix and Nike,) they miss almost an entire year of training and performances, and they are oftentimes judged for the choices they make throughout their pregnancy by their coaches, peers, fans, and the media.
Oftentimes, becoming pregnant as a professional athlete is seen as unfortunate, a setback, or even a mistake. However, women like Serena Williams, Sydney Leroux, Alex Morgan, Allyson Felix, and now Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce are changing that narrative, their athletic involvement during pregnancy, their recovery and performance post-birth, and their devotion to their children showing the world that women can be professional athletes and professional mothers. They are showing the world that they can thrive in their sport while at the same time being loving, wonderful mothers, and that becoming pregnant and having children as female athletes are not setbacks or mistakes.
In a sweet Instagram post dedicated to her four-year-old son, Zyon, Fraser-Pryce wrote, “Out of all the titles I’ve earned, being your mommy is my favorite.” This is a woman who does not let the hard work she has put into her career hinder her from being the best mother she can. She does not let the fact that she is a mother dampen or weaken the dedication and love she has for her sport.
To quote Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce herself;
“Here I am, Zyon’s mommy and the Fastest Woman Alive!” She is living proof you can have the best of both worlds.