Fri | Aug 18, 2017

Fraser-Pryce chasing history

Published:Thursday | January 7, 2016 | 1:00 AM
Fraser-Pryce

The women's sprints are exploding with speed. Last year, a 16-year-old American, Candace Hill, broke 11 seconds for 100 metres.

New names have emerged here in the form of Elaine Thompson and Natasha Morrison and in Holland through Dafne Schippers. Africa has the dynamic duo of Blessing Okagbare and Murielle Ahoure. Britain has an entry into these high speed stakes in the form of 2014 World Junior Champion Dina Asher-Smith.

These are just some of the women who stand between Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and a unique place in athletics history.

At present, two Americans - Wyomia Tyus and Gail Devers - other than the little Jamaican have won the Olympic gold medal in the 100 metres. Tyus' form dipped in between her gold medal runs in 1964 in Tokyo and in 1968 in Mexico, but that is perhaps understandable. Back then, there were no World Championships to chase.

Devers was World Champion in 1993, when she won a squeaker over Jamaican icon Merlene Ottey. That narrow win came after her 1992 Olympic success over Juliet Cuthbert in Barcelona and before another heartbreaker over Ottey in the Atlanta Olympic Games in 1996.

Athletically, gold at the World Championships equals gold in track and field at the Olympics.

Power of tradition

However, the Worlds started only in 1983 and still lack the lustre of the Olympics. That's the power of a tradition that started with the first Olympics in 1896.

So even though she is already the most successful 100-metre sprinter, the 29-year-old Kingston native 'needs' to win an unprecedented third Olympic gold medal to become the undisputed Queen of Speed.

Last year, she won her third World title despite easing off early to celebrate. This year could be harder.

Schippers will fully focus on sprinting for the first time and Thompson will likely campaign in both the 100m and the 200m. Nigerian Okagbare and Ahoure, the ace from the Ivory Coast, could be back to the form that gave them medals at the 2013 World Championships. Asher-Smith, who took the British record under 11 seconds last season, could move forward again and the American World bronze medal winner, Tori Bowie, is certain to threaten.

There is one other challenger. Veronica Campbell-Brown, the World 100m champion in 2007, is chasing her own piece of history.

Fruitful career

In a long and fruitful career, she has twice won the Olympic bronze medal in the 100 metres. At 33, she is older than Shelly, but her surprising 21.97-second run for third in the World Championships 200m final came after a season troubled by leg ailments.

A win in the 100m might be enough to win VCB the undisputed title of best Jamaican female sprinter of all time. With the 2020 Olympics a further four years away, this is probably her last chance.

The field is fabulous as all mentioned herein have broken 11 seconds, with Kerron Stewart, Sherone Simpson and Carmelita Jeter, all Olympic silver medal winners in the 100m and long jumper-sprinter Tianna Bartoletta, appearing as respected outsiders.

However, on the strength of her dominating 2015 season and her consistent speed in big meets, Shelly-Ann is on course to make history.

Mathematically, any medal will pull her away from Tyus and Devers, but that won't be enough to settle the arguments.

The gold medal is the big prize.

- Hubert Lawrence has made notes at trackside since 1980.