Eight-time Olympic medalist Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce will conclude her illustrious sprinting career at the 2024 Games in Paris, as she plans to retire from the sport that propelled her to stardom in 2008.
The 37-year-old expressed her continued passion for racing in an interview with Essence.com and said her decision to step away was fueled by the desire to spend more time with her 6-year-old son, Zyon, and her husband, Jason.
“My son needs me,” Fraser-Pryce said. “My husband and I have been together since before I won in 2008. He has sacrificed for me. We’re a partnership, a team. And it’s because of that support that I’m able to do the things that I have been doing for all these years. And I think I now owe it to them to do something else.”
Fraser-Pryce burst onto the international sprinting scene as a 21-year-old when she became the first Caribbean woman to win gold in an Olympic 100-meter final, clocking a winning time of 10.78 seconds. Standing atop the podium in Beijing, she was joined by compatriots Sherone Simpson and Kerron Stewart, who tied for silver. The Jamaican sprinters were the first trio to sweep the medals of a women’s 100-meter race in any Olympics or world championships.
She defended her 100m title at the 2012 Olympics with a winning time of 10.75 seconds and added two silvers in the 200m and 4x100m relay. At the Rio Olympics in 2016, Fraser-Pryce won her first bronze in her signature event as well as another silver in the 4x100m relay. She added her third gold in the 4x100m relay with her Jamaican teammates in Tokyo and a fourth 100m medal with a second-place finish behind Elaine Thompson-Herah.
In addition to her collection of Olympic hardware, Fraser-Pryce boasts 16 world championship medals (10 gold, five silver, one bronze) and five gold Diamond League medals. She ran her 100m personal best of 10.60 seconds, which is the third-fastest women’s time recorded at that distance, at the Lausanne Diamond League in August 2021.
Jamaica dominates the women’s 100m again, going 1-2-3 at the Lausanne Diamond League 🇯🇲
1️⃣ Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (10.60, third fastest time in event history)
2️⃣ Elaine Thompson-Herah (10.64)
3️⃣ Shericka Jackson (10.92)
— The Athletic (@TheAthletic) August 26, 2021
The Paris Olympics begin July 26 and run through Aug. 11. The women’s 100m preliminary round is Aug. 2 with the semifinals and final following on Aug. 3.
Fraser-Pryce’s sustained greatness
Usain Bolt may be the most recognizable Jamaican sprinter, but Fraser-Pryce’s legacy may be just as important to the nation’s reputation. She shined brightest on the biggest stages, notching a massive personal best at the 2008 Jamaica Olympic trials to make her first Olympic team in the 100-meter dash, knocking reigning 200m gold medalist Veronica Campbell Brown off the team in the process.
But Fraser-Pryce quickly proved she belonged. The morning after Bolt shocked the world with his record-breaking 100m time, Fraser-Pryce elevated her performance to take gold as well, leading a Jamaican women’s sweep in the event. With a time of 10.78 seconds, Fraser-Pryce ran the second-fastest time in Olympic history, behind only Florence Griffith Joyner in 1988.
Famous for her typically bright-colored hairstyles, Fraser-Pryce’s legacy may be most impressive for its longevity. She claimed her first world championship in 2009 as a 22-year-old and her 10th (including relays) 13 years later as a 35-year-old mother.
Many expected her to retire after giving birth in 2017, but she came back even stronger. She returned to the top of the world rankings in 2019, winning two more gold medals at the 2019 World Championships and taking silver in 2021 at the Summer Olympics in another Jamaican sweep. At 34 years old, she ran the fastest 100m time of her career, 10.60 seconds, becoming the third-fastest woman and the fastest mother in history.
The capstone of her career came in 2022, when she continued competing despite stating she would retire after Tokyo. With all her contemporaries retired, she fought to maintain Jamaica’s dominant reputation. At 35 years old and competing on a more limited schedule, she warded off the next generation’s coronation by winning her fifth world championship in the 100m, making her the oldest world champion in any individual track event.
Fraser-Pryce’s peak may not have reached as high as FloJo’s or gained as much attention as Bolt’s, but her resume speaks for itself. — Mark Puleo, staff editor, news
(Photo: Hannah Peters / Getty Images for World Athletics)