TRIPLE Olympic medallist Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce yesterday thanked the Jamaican people for their support of the athletes at the London 2012 Games even as she encouraged other youngsters to strive for excellence regardless of their circumstances.
Fraser-Pryce, who spoke to the Jamaica Observer during one of her first appearances at a public event in London following her victory in the Women’s 100m and silver medal finishes in the 200ms and 4x100 relay, said this support has meant a lot to the athletes.
“I want to say thanks for all the support the Jamaican people have given us because it is not easy being here as athletes on the big stage,” she said.
She said it is more of a mental strain for athletes to be competing in such a mega setting where everyone is prepared to compete and, as such, the support from Jamaicans at home significantly contributes to their psyche.
Fraser-Pryce was a special guest at yesterday’s Diana Awards event, which was set up in 1999 to act as a lasting legacy to the Princess of Wales’ belief that young people have the power to change the world.
The award, which has been brought to Jamaica for the first time since this year through the University of Technology (UTech), honours the achievements of young people who volunteer in their communities or have overcome a challenge but still support others.
The unassuming Fraser-Pryce, who is looking forward to returning to Jamaica, was flanked by fans who wanted to pose with her for pictures or to sign autograph.
Meanwhile, the 25-year-old sprint sensation said God has done so much for Jamaica and has continued to bless the country in so many areas.
The ‘Pocket Rocket’ also had words of advice for young people who, she said, should not allow their backgrounds to limit their dreams.
“As one who is coming from the inner-city, I want to let persons know it does not matter where you are from,” Fraser- Pryce told the Observer.
Fraser-Pryce, who grew up in Waterhouse in Kingston, ascended to prominence at the 2008 Olympic Games held in Beijing, China, when at 21- years-old, the then little known athlete became the first Caribbean woman to win 100m gold at the Olympics.
She successfully defended her title in London, thus becoming the third woman — and first non-American — to win two consecutive 100m events at the Olympics. Fraser-Pryce is also the second female sprinter to hold both world and Olympic 100m crowns simultaneously, after American Gail Devers.
The petite Jamaican star who is renowned for her explosive start is ranked fourth on the list of fastest 100m sprinters of all time, with a personal best of 10.70 seconds set at the Jamaica Trials earlier this year.
The Wolmer’s Girls’ past student had further words of advice for Jamaicans all over.
“As long as you have a dream and stay focused and ask God to give you the strength and believe that you can achieve and continue to work hard, you will,” she said.