Two-time Olympic 100m champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce rose to international prominence 12 years ago when she secured her first gold medal in the event at the Beijing Games.
But, before she arrived in the Asian nation, there was much debate in her homeland as to whether she should even be included on the team.
At the Jamaican championships, Fraser-Pryce (who dating her now husband, Jason), finished second in the 100m, behind Olympic relay gold medallist Kerron Stewart. Third place went to Sherone Simpson, who was also part of gold medal sprint relay team in 2004.
“I know hard life, I know struggle, I know roughness, I know all of it. So it’s almost like it prepares me for things like that.”– Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce
Left back in fourth, and out of the event, was the darling of local athletics, and reigning Olympic 200m champion, Veronica Campbell-Brown. Despite having secured her place on the team with her runner-up finish, many thought she was too inexperienced and untested and should have given her spot to the Campbell-Brown.
Shelly-Ann would go on to silence her critics when she led Stewart and Simpson home in 10.78 seconds in a historic 1-2-2 finish for Jamaica.
“I’m not gonna say I blame them, I cannot because at the time Veronica was a sure thing”, Fraser-Pryce told Yendi Phillips on her YouTube show Odyssey, Untold Journeys with Yendi.
“Looking back now I cannot say I would have sit down [back] in my days and be at home and somebody say ‘Veronica naw run’ and me would a probably take that. Me would a say ‘No, mi waan Veronica run,” said the four-time 100m World Champion.
She continued, “I remember watching that Olympics, 2004 Olympics, at home. And I remember them…Veronica was the standard. So I cannot imagine that they would have said anything different and I understand.”
It’s just forgiveable. I have forgiven all of that, I have moved on because I understand that while it shouldn’t have happened based on the rules, I understand where everybody was coming from and I think at the end of the day, I’m glad that I was able to open the doors for younger athletes to understand that anything that you set out to achieve, your age, it don’t matter. When you’re ready, you show up, and you go out there and you go after it.”
The sprinter, who also has World Championship gold and Olympic silver in the 200m, said she continues to defy the odds for people who have counted her out.
“For me, they tell you you’re too young to run and to achieve and then they tell you ‘Oh, you’re too old, you need to stop now, you’ve had enough, you’ve done enough’.
“At the end of the day it’s almost like I come out stronger and I think growing up, coming from where I was, I’ve seen a lot of things. I know hard life, I know struggle, I know roughness, I know all of it. So it’s almost like it prepares me for things like that.”
The 34-year-old has set her sight firmly on next year’s rescheduled Olympic Games in Tokyo, and hopes to end her career closer to home the following year at the World Championship in Eugene, Oregon in the United States.