When high-performance athletes break barriers, they typically do it when they’re young. Michael Phelps set the Olympic record for most gold medals in a Games when he was 23. Usain Bolt was 21 when he set the world record in the 200m in Beijing. And when Simone Biles won 4 golds and 1 bronze in Rio, she was just 19 years old.
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce was 34 when she competed at a track meet in Jamaica earlier this month. She was already the reigning world champion in the 100 metres (she won gold at the World Championships in Qatar in 2019), but she managed to set the bar even higher. She posted a time of 10.63 seconds, the second-fastest time ever and well ahead of Tokyo 2020 favourite Sha’Carri Richardson of the US.
Despite setting the track on fire – and despite Olympic gold in Beijing and in London – Fraser-Pryce is not yet a lock for the Jamaican National Team. (That gets decided at the national championships later this month.) But for right now, she’s finding joy in just competing, and in finally accomplishing one of her long-term goals.
“If I’m able to run 10.6 now … I’m just looking forward to what the process will bring,” she told Business Day. “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.”
If Fraser-Pryce does go to Tokyo and does somehow manage to win gold in the 100m, she’d become the oldest woman ever to win an individual sprint event. More than that, she’d become the only woman ever to win three Olympic golds in a single track-and-field discipline.
At the Olympics, of course, nothing is a given. World Champions stumble all the time, and the 100m leaves so little room for error. But, as the fastest woman alive, you’d have to think that Fraser-Pryce just became the favourite.