Shelly-Ann eyes the big time yet again

Saturday, February 02, 2019

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It's that time of year when Jamaican track and field followers get a pep in their step and a glint in the eye.

A succession of development meets now taking place around the country form part of the build-up towards high-profile events such as the very popular Gibson/McCook Relays in late February and the even more famous high-schools' athletic championships, “Champs”, which dates back well in excess of 100 years.

In June will come the National Championships (trials), with top athletes at junior and senior levels hoping to impress with a view to being selected for international competition, not least at the IAAF World Championships in Doha, Qatar, later this year.

Also, in coming months, top athletes will be busy on the professional grand prix circuit, including a world challenge meet in Kingston.

With the Olympic Games set for Tokyo, Japan, next year, the IAAF World Championships will take on especial importance.

Of interest is that the World Championships, usually held in the northern hemisphere summer, round about August, is scheduled for late September into October because of the searing heat associated with Qatar at the height of summer.

The timing will provide an added challenge for many athletes, including those at college in North America who usually target peak physical condition much earlier in the season.

Those issues aside, Jamaicans will be paying keen attention to the form of their top athletes in the build-up to the World Championships, especially since the 2017 edition was an underwhelming one from Jamaica's perspective.

Much focus will be on Mrs Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, the much admired “Pocket rocket”. Readers may recall that she missed out on the 2017 World Championships having taken time off to give birth to her son.

We note that, like her MVP club mate and fellow 100-metre Olympic champion Miss Elaine Thompson, Miss Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce was in sparkling form over 60 metres at the Queen's/Grace Jackson Track Meet inside the National Stadium recently.

Now 32 years old, Mrs Fraser-Pryce will know she is closer to the end than the beginning of her spectacularly successful career as a professional athlete. She also knows that as time passes it becomes harder to achieve the levels that allowed her to excel at global games down the years, including individual Olympic gold medals over 100 metres in 2008 and 2012.

Says she: “To be honest, it is still a work in progress... last year was a bit choppy, but nonetheless it was a success for me coming back from having my son. This year I am just looking to put the pieces together and trying to get back to where I was.”

What we know from the past is that Mrs Fraser-Pryce has never been scared of hard work and she thrives on competition. Our bet is that she will do whatever it takes to be in peak condition this year.

Like all well-thinking Jamaicans, this newspaper wishes her all that's good.

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