Celebration at Shelly-Ann's home
THE tension at the house where Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce grew up was just as high as inside the stadium in London where the sprint champion competed in the women's 100m final yesterday.
But after the race started and it became clear that she had successfully defended her Olympic crown in fine style, the family dwelling on Ashoka Road in the Penwood area of West Central St Andrew exploded into a sea of black, gold and green flag-waving, horn-blowing, pot cover-banging celebration.
Members of Fraser-Pryce's family — mostly cousins, uncles and aunts — gathered in the small room, sweating profusely for just under 11 seconds before erupting into celebration following Fraser-Pryce's victory in 10.75 seconds.
"Soup, soup," shouted Kemar Johnson, as he watched his cousin sprint into the annals of Jamaica and Olympic history.
"Come on little Pocket Rocket. Come mi niece," shouted Julia Simpson, her head wrapped in a red kerchief and her hands clasped as if in prayer. She could barely look at the television set until the race was finally over.
"Mi tell you she caan lose," said uncle Kirk Simpson, with tears flowing down his eyes. "She tell mi she in good condition."
Wrapped in the Jamaican flag prior to the race and blowing his vuvuzela non-stop, uncle Kirk, in an afterthought, turned his attention to Jamaica's other runner in the final.
"Where Veronica finished?" he asked, but no one was sure as the focus was totally on their family member.
Within moments, the tenement yard was the focal point of celebrations as residents from neighbouring communities hurriedly found their way to Ashoka Road.
Approximately 15 minutes before the race, the road was relatively quiet but all that changed quickly.
Congratulatory phone calls where coming fast.
"Shelly seh she dream she did get the gold medal," shouted a young woman. "She is a girl wey always go church."
When the Jamaica Observer was leaving, Fraser-Pryce's mom, Maxine Simpson, was on her way to Ashoka Road to join the celebration, which was a repeat of that which took place after Fraser-Pryce won gold at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China. That victory surprised the world.
This time, the 25-year-old sprinter was the favourite going into the race and she delivered a wonderful birthday gift to a nation that will celebrate its 50th anniversary of Independence tomorrow.
Members of Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce's family at their Ashoka Road home watching attentively as she speeds to victory in the women's 100m Olympic final in London yesterday. From left are cousins Kemar Johnson and Keishi Simpson; uncle Kirk Simpson, and aunt Julia Simpson. (Photos: Jermaine Barnaby)
Kirk Simpson (centre) is in tears following his niece, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce's victory in the 100m yesterday. At left her cousin Kemar Johnson looks to the ceiling in celebration, while Lucas Simpson (right) cannot contain himself.
Outside the family dwelling on Ashoka Road, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce's family members and friends celebrate her victory in the women's 100m Olympic final yesterday. From left are cousin Denilson Simpson, aunt Julia Simpson and friend Nadine McLean.
Paul Elliott, resident of the community, celebrates the sprinter's victory.