For many women athletes who choose to hit the pause button on their careers to start a family, the road back to championship form can be rough, especially if you believe the whispers that you’ll never return to it.
Jamaican sprinter Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce can relate. The 5-foot-tall phenom gave birth to a son named Zyon in 2017, via C-section, and some believed she’d end up retiring from the sport. She, at times, had her own doubts.
“There were days I did think about whether my body would be able to allow me to put the level of work in to get it done,” she remarked in 2019.
Well, over the weekend, she certainly got “it” done, reclaiming the women’s 100m world title at 35, her fifth time taking it home, at the World Athletics Championships in Eugene, Oregon, on July 17. She romped to a meet record time of 10.67 seconds, ahead of compatriots Shericka Jackson who placed second, and Olympic champ Elaine Thompson-Herah who was third, showcasing a dominant sweep of the podium by the Jamaican women. Fraser-Pryce did what many didn’t think could be done, something she spoke about to The Guardian shortly before Sunday evening’s event.
“It’s unfortunate that for a lot of people that I’ve been competing with throughout the years, they’ve stopped [running] for many different reasons…but to be able to continue to do what I’m doing, I’m just hoping I’ll add to inspiration like Allyson [Felix], to show women that you can have success after 30. You’re not limited by anything,” she said. “I know, especially for shoe companies, they like to think that when women reach a certain age, they want to discard them. But I’m grateful that I’m showing women that it can be done.”
As mentioned, Fraser-Pryce, who won silver at that distance during the recent Summer Games in Tokyo, once wondered if she could have the comeback she imagined following childbirth. But she said of motherhood upon her return to the track, “Motherhood does not stop us from achieving our goals. If anything, it adds value to who we are.” And it definitely didn’t stop her from winning another title at the World Championships, like she previously did in 2009, 2013, 2015, and 2019. And based on what she tweeted last summer, it’s not keeping Fraser-Pryce from sparking rumors that she’ll be back at the Olympics as she gets closer to 40.
We sure would love to see it from the thirtysomething mom, one of the greatest sprinters of all time.