‘So many sacrifices’ - Fraser-Pryce underlines challenges of juggling career and motherhood
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce went from being known as the ‘Pocket Rocket’ to ‘Mommy Rocket’ after giving birth to her first child, Zion, two years ago.
The multiple Olympic and World champion is back for her first full season of competition again this year, and her performances so far suggest that she has not really missed a beat.
A clocking of 10.73 seconds, just a thirtieth of a second off her national record, says that she not only means business this season, but has been training as hard as ever, as she seeks glory, not only here at the Pan American Games, where she won the 200m gold in a Games record 22.43, but also next month at the IAAF World Championships in Doha, Qatar.
However, she says splitting her focus between being an elite professional athlete and a mother to an infant is far from easy.
“It’s time-consuming and some days it can be exhausting,” Fraser-Pryce told The Gleaner. “Some days it’s mixed.”
Fraser-Pryce ran the 200m semi-final on Thursday, a day after Zion’s second birthday, winning in 22.90 seconds. Her participation meant she could not take part in celebrations with him.
“It comes with so many sacrifices and challenges, but for me, that’s what life is. It’s about challenges and meeting those challenges where they are and working through them.”
The 32-year-old says motherhood has also brought out a more mature side of her on the track.
“I’m hungry, yes, but also, I think there’s less pressure,” she said. “Now that I have a son, I’m competing but there’s now a little bit more joy in the competition than before. Not that I wasn’t having fun before, but if I cross the line and things weren’t going how I wanted them to, I may be a bit disappointed, but that’s it. Now I have somebody that has my total concentration and focus. So it makes it a little easier and more fun.”
Fraser-Pryce says female athletes should get more respect for how difficult a task it is to balance competing and having a family, as it comes with many sacrifices, which many of her colleagues are apprehensive about making.
“I believe that we are worth more because we have so much more to give, and to come out here and give 100 per cent in a time where persons look at us, ‘Oh, they’re having babies, they’re coming back.’
“A lot of women are so afraid to take the time off to go start their families, so I definitely think that we deserve more, and definitely deserve more credit for what we do and showing up each time we’re here,” she said.
Fraser-Pryce’s record run broke the previous mark of 22.45 seconds, which stood for 40 years.