World Athletics Championships 2019: Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce on motherhood, hair and medals

By Nicola SuttonBBC Sport
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce of Jamaica
Double Olympic champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce has become one of the greatest athletes in history
World Athletics Championships 2019
Venue: Doha, Qatar Date: 27 September - 6 October
Coverage: Follow live coverage across BBC TV, radio, online, mobile app and the BBC iPlayer

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce knows more than anyone about the sacrifices needed to become a seven-time world champion.

But missing her son Zyon's first nursery sports day in April hit particularly hard for the Jamaican sprint superstar.

"He goes to daycare and I missed his first race because I was in Grenada for my first meeting [where Fraser-Pryce opened her 2019 campaign with a sluggish 11.20 seconds] so it was very painful for me," she said.

"My husband was at the race and he video-called me - everybody was excited, shouting 'here comes baby rocket!' He just stood there when they started the race, so I was like 'What's happening? Go! Run Zyon, run!'

"I was screaming and having a lot of fun and my husband won the parent race so we salvaged some of it. I'll definitely do that race one day - warm up, spikes and all. I'm waiting for it now."

It is difficult to think of a track and field athlete who personifies happiness quite as much as Fraser-Pryce, who is arguably Britain's Dina Asher-Smith's main threat in 100m.

Fraser-Pryce, the 2019 joint world leader over 100m, cites the distractions and joys of both motherhood and her beauty business as the reasons behind her renewed level of fitness, dazzling smile and infectious laugh.

She has returned to athletics after her maternity leave in 2017 with a more relaxed attitude to the sport, and the 32-year-old is in a promising position to add to her global medal collection at the World Championships in Doha, which start on Friday.

Having scorched to 2008 Olympic 100m glory at the tender age of 21, the 5ft tall Fraser-Pryce went on to retain her Olympic crown in 2012, before claiming bronze at the 2016 Games to become the first woman in history to win three consecutive Olympic 100m medals.

She is also the first woman to win three World Championship 100m titles, courtesy of victories in 2009, 2013 and 2015, and is the fourth-fastest 100m runner of all time with a blistering 10.70, which she clocked in 2012.

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce of Jamaica celebrates winning the Women's 100m Final in 2008 Olympic final
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce celebrates won 100m gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics

For all that she has achieved on the track, the Kingston native says her greatest achievement is her son.

"He gives the energy in my life and makes everything easier, and he gives me that extra motivation to keep going," Fraser-Pryce said.

"Motherhood is time-consuming and a lot of work but I have a great team - my husband and I definitely see eye to eye on what's important and getting the balance right between family life and track, and we make it work and make time for each other.

"I get home from practice and sometimes my son is exhausting but it's something I wouldn't trade for anything else because he's actually made me better at what I do and a lot more relaxed by remembering that after a race, there's still more to life."

Fraser-Pryce missed the last World Championships in London in 2017, with Zyon born the day after the women's 100m final.

A mere 11 months after giving birth, Fraser-Pryce sped to a swift 10.98 to rank 10th in the world last year, and she says her renewed enjoyment for the sport is thanks to her son.

"He brings the excitement to my training and it's a huge blessing to have my son watch me," she said, having recently released a children's book called 'I am a promise', based on the life lessons she has learned as an athlete.

"Zyon goes to the track - he loves to get in the long jump pit with sand in his hair as I run by, and all I can tell my team-mates is 'don't let him run across the track' because he's pretty fast. He makes training lighter for me and it's fun.

"I once put my medals on him to try and get a picture and he was just like 'No!' because they're heavy and were weighing him down - but give him a football and he's all over it."

Targeting both the 100m and 200m events in Doha next week, Fraser-Pryce will face stiff opposition from triple European sprint champion Asher-Smith and her Jamaican team-mate Elaine Thompson - the Olympic champion in both disciplines and with whom she shares the 100m world leading time of 10.73.

Fourth in the 2017 world 200m final, 23-year-old Asher-Smith caused a surprise by beating Fraser-Pryce over the shorter event in Brussels earlier this month, during a superb season which has also brought her additional Diamond League wins over 200m in Doha and Stockholm, and impressive runner-up spots in Rome (100m), Lausanne (100m), London (100m), Birmingham (200m) and Zurich (200m).

The 27-year-old Thompson has been victorious in Rome (100m), Paris (100m) and London (200m), in addition to claiming the Jamaican national titles in both events this summer.

Fraser-Pryce - a world 200m champion in 2013 - has enjoyed victories over 100m in Lausanne and London, and remains confident despite the younger generation snapping hard at her heels.

"I've been doing this a very long time and I'm getting older, so it's a real privilege to be able to run with such great ladies," she said.

"But I also always make sure I bring the fire and jump right in - Doha is a big one for me and I'm enjoying each day and the process, and trusting that God has something great in store."

Whatever happens on the track in Doha, Fraser-Pryce will be sure to make a separate statement. She is known for frequently changing the colour of her hair during the track season and takes great pride and enjoyment from it, especially at major championships.

Having showcased pink hair at the 2013 World Championships in Moscow, she then went on to launch her own hair business. She sported a green hairstyle at the 2015 edition in Beijing and has since opened a salon.

"My coach says I like hair more than running and he's right because I get so excited to colour my hair, especially for championships," she said.

"I'm excited for the colour I'll wear for Doha and sometimes I get so into it all, I forget I'm going there to run.

"I have a hair line and shampoo, conditioner, soaps - the whole works. It's a big passion for me, I believe that your hair's an accessory and you can do so many things to it. I want to be able to accentuate the beauty of any woman no matter what you choose to do with your hair and at the same time, nourish what you have underneath your wigs, extensions or braids.

"Hair is definitely something that makes me happy and more bubbly, it brings out that glow in me."

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