Super Shelly-Ann!

J'can track icon 'elated' at being named on 2019

BY ARTHUR HALL
Editor-at-large
halla@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, October 17, 2019

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Jamaican track and field sprint great Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce yesterday expressed pleasure at being named on the British Broadcasting Corporation 's ( BBC 's) 2019 list of 100 inspiring and influential women from around the world.

At the same time, local gender activists, commentators and sporting personalities showered praises on the athletic superstar, who last month demolished a world-class 100-metre field in 10.71 seconds to win her fourth world championship title and eighth world title overall.

“It's great to be a part of the evolution of athletics where motherhood doesn't determine how far female athletes can go in the sport,” Fraser-Pryce, who took a break from the sport after giving birth to her son two years ago, responded to the Jamaica Observer via WhatsApp. “With that being said, I am elated at the recognition and hope that I can continue to inspire many.”

Earlier, writer, storyteller, actress, and teacher Joan Andrea Hutchinson said she was “totally blown away” by the BBC recognition. “This means so much, not just for Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce for all the hard work she has put in, but this means so much for every woman of colour. Every little girl who dreams of being big can understand that through hard work and perseverance she can achieve her goal.

“So I am very proud of Shelly-Ann. Thank you, Shelly-Ann, on behalf of every little girl all over the world.”

For broadcaster and university lecturer Fae Ellington, this latest achievement by Fraser-Pryce is “absolutely brilliant”.

“What she has done is outstanding. Most persons, athletes in particular, 20, 30, 40 years ago, would have said 'I have had a baby, I'm done', but she said, 'I have had a baby, I'm not done, I want to reinvent and carry on with my career'.

“So she is an excellent example for women who want to have a family and carry on with their careers. I am just so honoured for this country and for Shelly-Ann that she could have been selected,” said Ellington.

Gender activist Carol Narcisse was equally impressed as she described Fraser-Pryce's making the list as fantastic.

“Shelly-Ann, at a number of levels, is outstanding. At the level of an athlete or sports person she is on top of her game. At the level of a woman who demonstrates how challenged but able women are to juggle their multiple roles in life, as mother, as professionals, and as a broader societal icon … she carries those obligations in an exemplary way,” said Narcisse.

Another gender activist, Judith Wedderburn, argued that Fraser-Pryce shows that Jamaicans, and in particular Jamaican women, underestimate their strength.

“Shelly-Ann must have decided that she would be a wife, a mother, and that it is also possible to continue her career at the top level. She must have decided that she would not choose between a profession and a family and she has demonstrated that it is possible to do both,” Wedderburn said.

“I would like to give her a big hug and say 'you are an example to all young women to say this is possible' but they have to do the work as she has done,” said Wedderburn.

Fraser-Pryce is the only woman from the Caribbean on the 2019 BBC list, which was published yesterday and includes 13 women from the world of sports.

The sporting stars include Britain's Dina Asher-Smith, who won the 200m at the just concluded IAAF World Championship in Doha; Nigerian-born Bahraini Salwa Eid Naser, who stunned the field in the 400m final, also in Doha; and American Megan Rapinoe, who led the US women's national team to victory in the 2019 Women's World Cup.

In introducing Fraser-Pryce the BBC noted that after storming to victory in 10.71 seconds in the women's 100m final in Doha she now boasts more 100m world championship titles than Usain Bolt.

“It makes the Jamaican track and field sprinter the oldest woman to ever win an Olympic or world 100m title and the first mum to do so since 1995,” said the BBC as it noted that she carried her two-year-old son Zyon on her lap of honour, saying she wanted to “inspire women thinking of starting a family”.

The media house quoted Fraser-Pryce as saying: “Finding balance is never easy, but we as women get to decide. I never limit myself as to what is possible as long as my body will cooperate. It's important for the future of athletics that women continue to challenge themselves. I am excited to see just how far I can go, even at this stage of my career.”

The BBC said its 2019 list of 100 inspiring and influential women in the world was selected by a team which drew up a short-list based on names gathered by them and suggested by its network of World Service languages teams.

“We were looking for candidates who had made the headlines, or influenced important stories over the past 12 months, as well as those who have inspiring stories to tell, achieved something significant or influenced their societies in ways that wouldn't necessarily make the news.

“The pool of names was then assessed against this year's theme The Female Future and measured for regional representation and due impartiality, before the final 100 were chosen,” said the BBC.


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