Jamaica's Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce celebrates winning the women's 100m final during the World Athletics Championships in Eugene, Oregon, on Sunday. [Photo/Agencies]
EUGENE, Oregon－That mile-wide smile would come a split-second later. When Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce saw her name come up first Sunday night in the 100-meter final, she pumped her right fist in the air twice and let out a loud scream toward the stands.
Yep, she did it. Again.
And shame on anyone who thought it was over for Jamaica's most-celebrated 100m runner this side of Usain Bolt.
The 35-year-old mom sped her way back to the top of the sprint game, winning her fifth 100m world title－that's two more than Bolt amassed during his decade of dominance－by leading a Jamaican sweep and knocking off the favorite, two-time Olympic champion Elaine Thompson-Herah.
"It was definitely something on the cards," Fraser-Pryce said of the potential sweep.
"I'm glad I was the one who finished first in the sweep and I'm glad the other ladies came through and we were able to celebrate the 1-2-3.
"It's special, it's my fifth world title in the 100m, and doing it at 35, yes I said 35!"
Running out of lane 6, Fraser-Pryce led all the way and crossed the line in 10.67 seconds. She beat Shericka Jackson by 0.06 seconds while Thompson-Herah finished a surprising third in 10.81.
The smile came later. Lots of them, in fact.
With her blonde hair cinched into a braid up top, and with green-tinted locks flowing in the breeze, Fraser-Pryce offered smiles and took selfies with the fans as she jogged through her victory lap.
It was a different scene than last year in Tokyo, when she seemed puzzled and frustrated at how she could've finished second to Thompson-Herah by such a sizable margin－0.13.
"I went back home and I worked and I worked and I came out here, and I had the success," the beaming sprinter said in her on-track interview.
And to think, the night began with thoughts that Thompson-Herah might knock off Florence Griffith-Joyner's 34-year-old world record of 10.49.
Less than a year ago, Thompson-Herah had run 10.54 on this very same track in the Prefontaine Classic to join Flo Jo as the only other woman to go lower than 10.6.
Fraser-Pryce has run exactly 10.6 before, though, and instead of Flo Jo's record going down, it was one held by Marion Jones－her 23-year-old world-championship mark of 10.70－that went by the wayside.
Fraser-Pryce adds this to world titles she won in the 100 in 2009,'13,'15 and '19. She also won the Olympics in 2008 and 2012.
It was no huge surprise that the aftermath in the corridors of the stadium felt like a bit of a party. Dozens of fans wearing "Shelly-Ann" T-shirts－complete with a picture of her when she still wore braces－were making their way to the exits, a few of them high-fiving.
One of them, a former elite sprinter in Jamaica, Errol Byles, told of meeting Fraser-Pryce on an airplane. They exchanged numbers, and stayed in touch. Before the worlds, he asked her to send some shirts, and they wore them with pride walking out.
Byles reminisced about the vibe in Jamaica when Fraser-Pryce qualified for her first Olympics, back in 2008. She was too young, the skeptics said, and had no business taking the spot that could've gone to the reigning world champion at the time, Veronica Campbell-Brown.
Fraser-Pryce did take that spot, then led a Jamaican sweep in the 100.
"She has the heart of a champion and she's determined to prove everybody wrong," Byles said. "Now that she's older and she's a mom, there are some that think she's not as good as the others. But she's determined to prove otherwise, and she's doing that."
And so, a night after the US swept the podium in the men's 100, Fraser-Pryce and her compatriots showed there's still plenty of speed down on the island.
Thompson-Herah, who paced several steps behind Fraser-Pryce and Jackson at the start of the victory lap, expressed mixed emotions.
"It means a lot to us. We have been working hard," she said. "One-two-three at the Olympics, and one-two-three at the championships. Even though I wanted to win, it didn't work out. But I'm still keeping the journey going."
And so too, it turns out, is Fraser-Pryce. Her latest victory marks the defense of the title she won in 2019, a win that came two years after she missed the worlds in London while having her baby. She called that "a victory for motherhood".
Zyon is about the same age as Allyson Felix's daughter, Cammy, and though Fraser-Pryce was never as outspoken as Felix about the challenges facing moms, she told the story of sitting on her bed and crying the day she learned she was pregnant. People suggested her career was over. Not by a long shot.