Roxroy McLean, Gleaner Writer
Shelly-Ann Fraser seems to have popped out of nowhere and is now considered one of Jamaica's sprinting sensations. But who is she? Most people know her as the 21-year-old who defied the odds at Jamaica's Olympic trials by placing second in the 100 metres behind Kerron Stewart.
She grabbed the spotlight by beating established stars Sherone Simpson and Veronica Campbell-Brown. But there is more to the story than that.
Shelly-Ann has risen from the challenges that come with growing up in a violence-torn, inner-city community and is now set to shine on the world's biggest stage at the Olympic Games in Beijing, China.
Distrust in the inner city
Just before leaving, Fraser spent some time with The Gleaner, talking about what life was like for her growing up in the family home in Waterhouse, St Andrew.
"When you look at the situation that you are in, you work hard at what you want. The crime was a disadvantage and you had to be very careful of who you talk with, because not everybody is who you think they are," she said.
The former George Headley Primary student's schoolmates remember her as jovial and fun to be around. She later moved on to Wolmer's Trust, where she completed sixth form and got enrolled at the University of Technology.
Hope despite circumstances
Fraser admitted that living in an inner-city community can be a hassle at times, but insists that, with the right motivation, anyone can make it, especially with the support of loved ones. For her, support comes from her mom, Maxine Simpson, who, along with her track coach Stephen Francis of the MVP Track Club, are the most important people in her life.
"There are times where I'm not doing the right things in training, but my coach was always there to encourage me," Fraser said.
Her mother, a former athlete herself, would also give her tips on running.
"Whenever I miss out on something, they would show me how to do it better, and that was the difference."
Fraser will be participating in the 100 metres and the 4x100 metres relay.