Have a heart! Fraser-Pryce seeks empathy from insensitive fans

Fraser-Pryce defends stablemate Asafa Powell

BY DANIA BOGLE Observer staff reporter

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

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OLYMPIC 100m champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce is appealing to Jamaican fans reminding them that athletes are human beings too and need the love and support of their compatriots when the going gets tough.
"We love our country and we love that we have so many fans, but some of our fans can get so sensitive... We have so much things as an athlete doing...

"We’re not going to run good everyday. We’re going to have a down day. But it’s not that day for you to be telling us, ‘Oh, you’re worthless, you’re not supposed to be doing that’... instead of saying, ‘Good luck next time. All the best when it comes again’," Fraser-Pryce reasoned.


"They’re not there when we’re training. They don’t know how early we wake in the morning, what we’re eating; you just see the end result. There’s a beginning and a middle. We want Jamaicans to be there in the beginning, the middle, and the end, no matter what," the diminutive athlete argued.


Fraser-Pryce’s MVP Track Club training mate and 2009 World Championships 100m bronze medallist Asafa Powell may be the athlete who has suffered the most from the vagaries of the Jamaican public in the 10-plus years of his professional career.


In fact, when Fraser-Pryce won the Olympic gold medal in Beijing nearly four years ago, she dedicated her performance to the former world record-holder who finished fifth in the Men’s 100m final the previous day after being expected to place in the top three.


"What is for you is for you and it cannot be for somebody else, and if is not for him, is not for him; but he has done so much, so if you’re going to judge a man based on a gold medal, then I guess that you’re doing something wrong.


"They’re so many persons who have done so well but have not got that gold medal. Asafa has done so much for us and I know that one day he will get that medal that he deserves.


"He is a fine Jamaican who worked hard and he has been the forerunner for so long. I guess persons forget easily," Fraser-Pryce told the Observer.


The former Wolmer’s Girls’ athlete also understands the challenges, being a full-time student as well as a professional athlete. However, she said her training has been organised to facilitate concentration on her final year of studies.


"I just try to focus on what’s important for me and what’s important for me is school and trying to get that degree. The same discipline that you apply to track and field, you apply to school, and I have support: my coach is also a supportive person... if you have supportive persons, I think that will help," she said.


Fraser-Pryce was a wide-eyed 21-year-old when she won the marquee Women’s Olympic sprint title in 2008 when not much was expected of her. In fact, at one point she faced great opposition to maintian her spot in the short dash as it was a widespread notion that she should have ceded her spot to the more experienced Veronica Campbell Brown.


It’s now four years later and having also won the sprint crown at the 2009 IAAF World Championships in Berlin, Fraser-Pryce has become the fastest Jamaican woman ever over the distance.


Fraser-Pryce knows the bar has been set much higher as she prepares for the 2012 Olympic Games in London, England, but is banking on her experience gained over the past four years.


"I’ve learned to be patient; I’ve learned to be calm. Whenever I go out, instead of doubting myself, I believe in myself. There were times at the Olympics I was doubting myself because most persons didn’t want me there, but then I said I have nothing to lose.


"I try to apply the same thing. I have nothing to lose; I have everything to gain and that’s the effort I’ve put out in every track meet I go to," she said, adding that time has healed those wounds of yesteryear.


"I wasn’t bitter. I was angry that our nation wanted me to come out and give somebody else my spot without even giving me a chance, but I’m not angry anymore," she explained.


As she looks ahead to London in the next five or so months, she is satisfied that preparations are going according to plan.


"Training has been going good. I’m trying to make sure that everything is right for that day because injuries can be a next story.


"I’ve been staying home, drinking my fluids, making sure I’m getting rest because it’s an Olympic year," she declared.


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