Statue of Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce unveiled

Statue of Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce unveiled

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

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Jamaica's number one female sprinter of all time, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, had the honour of unveiling her own statue alongside Prime Minister Andrew Holness and Minister of Sports Olivia Grange at Statue Park inside Independence Park on Sunday.

Despite persistent showers, a large crowd of well-wishers including former President of the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) Mike Fennell, stayed for the entire ceremony as the 31-year-old was honoured by the nation for her contribution to the track and field legacy of Jamaica.

Fraser-Pryce burst onto the scene at the Olympic Games in Beijing, China in 2008 when she won gold in the most memorable women's 100 final in history. Three Jamaicans and three Americans contested that race with Jamaica sweeping the medals with a unique gold, silver and silver, as Sherone Simpson and Kerron Stewart could not be separated at the finish line. She went on to defend her title in London, England in 2012 and by her own admission, won her most prized 100m medal, the bronze, in 2016 in Brazil while battling a severe toe injury.

Grange, who gave the keynote address at the ceremony, beamed with pride as she spoke of the remarkable achievements of Jamaica's “sprint queen”.

“It is with immense pleasure that I stand here at this most important ceremony at which we as Jamaicans come to pay maximum respect to a young woman who has caused us on so many occasions to experience joy and pride in our heritage,” Grange said.

She also disclosed that the decision to have the unveiling on Sunday was a strategic one.

“Indeed, it was our first National Hero, Right Excellent Marcus Mosiah Garvey, who proclaimed that we will create 'a culture that will astonish the world'. Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce stands tall among those Jamaicans who, by sheer talent, unbridled energy, tenacity and persistence, have indeed brought glory to our country and astonished the world. Not only has the world been mesmerised that a country of the small geographical size of Jamaica could have such an expansive influence on world affairs, culture, and sports. They have been even more startled that a rocket the size of a pocket could blaze across the turf of world sports and dazzle by her sheer brilliance and artistry. What a glorious heritage! It is for this reason that we took the decision that this statue should be unveiled during Heritage Week in recognition of our glorious heritage in sports.”

President of the JOA Christopher Samuda was at his lyrical best in describing the legacy created by the “Pocket Rocket”.

“Record times will be etched by man-made hands on parchment and electronic boards. Medals of gold alloy will scintillate on chevron tracks and diamonds may be forever in athletic leagues and grand prix events, both of which are authored by man.

“The gift to humanity of the soul and spirit of Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce is not exclusively the work of paternal and maternal hands in love, but more importantly, it is the architecture of the unseen hand which has pottered her faith which she has designed, shaped and built on a rock and which now is an admirable exemplar for generations now and unborn. For legacies are not statued landmarks. Legacies reside in the stature and impact of men, of women — their life, their work and their worth.”

The prime minister said that his respect for Shelly-Ann grew more when he saw her performance in Rio de Janeiro.

“I watched her grimace in pain…yet she still wore the colours and still ran the race…she truly epitomises the Jamaica term — wi likkle but wi tallawah — our people are indeed our national treasures.”

Touching on another topical issue, Holness urged the audience to “say a prayer for Luton Shelton”. Shelton, who is Jamaica's record goal scorer at the international level, is suffering from the degenerative disease ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis).

In her acceptance speech Fraser-Pryce thanked all those who were responsible for her achievements, beginning with her mother, Maxine.

“This day would not be possible without my village. As I stand here, I reflect on the resilience of a single mother Maxine, who did the best she could with what she had. She made miracles out of the ordinary things. The generosity of my primary school teacher, Ms Edwards at George Headley Primary, who gifted me my very first pair of spikes. This is why it is important to partner in the dreams of others, you never know what can happen.

“I am thankful for the vision of the MVP Track Club mainly my coach Stephen Francis, manager Bruce James and my agent Adrian Laidlaw, who told Jamaica and the world in loud tones that Jamaican athletes can train in Jamaica and be the very best in the world.”

The statues of Asafa Powell and Veronica Campbell-Brown are expected to be added to Statue Park some time next year.

— Dwayne Richards

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