Laurie Foster | Wise words from a superstar
With the launch of the Digicel Grand Prix series, comes some crucial advice to athletes of the future from sprinting heroine and many-time global champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce. Fraser-Pryce has been to the mountain top in her craft and has benefited immensely from the lessons learnt along the way. She has chosen the platform of being the brand ambassador for the event to give of her experience in a meaningful way.
The ‘Pocket Rocket’ did not enjoy the smoothest passage to where she eventually reached. As mentioned in an article elsewhere, she came from 11.74 seconds at Girls’ Champs in 2006 to 10.78 to take 100 metres gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. That is no mean feat. After taking the third spot at the Trials and made to endure the suggestion that the 21-year-old’s space should be given to a more experienced athlete, it could not have been an easy task to navigate those waters.
To the unbelievers, it seemed a good ask, that in fourth spot, waiting to step up was the world champion from the previous year, none other than the crowd favourite, Veronica Campbell-Brown.
The fact that Fraser-Pryce went on to take the top prize in Beijing and also at the Berlin Worlds the year after, is a lasting tribute to those who stood by her at the time, not the least of whom were her handlers.
In her pre-event message to the young stars-in-the- making, Fraser-Pryce is cited as pleading with them to “have patience and not stress yourselves.”
This, as she explains that with the advances in the sport and the more incentives and opportunities, that did not exist in her time, “I find that more athletes are now pressuring themselves”.
She went on to say, “the more you pressure yourself as an athlete the harder for you to make that transition”.
These are potent words coming from the highly acclaimed athlete. The urge from Foster’s Fairplay is that “those who have ears to hear, let them hear.”
This superstar athlete knows clearly of what she speaks, having done it all before and is now moving into the final years of her illustrious career.
Against the backdrop of these bits of advice from Fraser-Pryce, is the absolute fact that there are those within the sport who carry considerable influence.
It is not the intention to sideline the many among them who mean well, although they are not professionals or have the requisite training. Young athletes should be tutored to identify the ones whose advice is worth taking. It will be to their everlasting credit if they are so able.
There are so many bridges to cross, with the setbacks awaiting if the wrong move is made or a faulty decision taken.Foster’s Fairplay suggests that the words of Fraser-Pryce be taken very seriously.
Jamaica needs all its athletes to excel, but that will only become a reality when they have the proper persons around them.
There is a role here for the governing body. It should take on the responsibility of supporting the young athletes through seminars and lectures which feature the Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryces of the sport. Her well-reasoned words are timely and should be appreciated.
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