Black Women in Sports: Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce’s Olympic Gold Medals

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Shelly-Ann Fraser Pryce is one of the best black women in sports and one of the best female Jamaican sprinters. She’s been a dominant force in the 100m, 200m and the 4 by 400m relay races. Some argue that Fraser-Pryce might be the greatest female sprinter of all time. 

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As that debate goes on, let’s establish how many gold medals Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce has won in her illustrious career. We’ll narrow it down to the Olympics because it’s the biggest event in the athletics calendar. 

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Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce’s Early Days

Black Women in Sports: Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce’s Olympic Gold Medals
Jamaican sprinter Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce. Image Source: Instagram licensed under CC BY 2.0

 The sprinter had a tough upbringing. She and her two brothers were raised by her mother in Kingston Jamaica in a violent neighborhood. Fraser-Pryce ran to school barefoot and even though she competed in some athletic events in school, she wasn’t sure about competing professionally.

Her first medal was a bronze medal she won at the 100m at the age of 16. She also clinched gold medals medals in the 200m and the 4 by 400m relay. In 2006, Fraser-Pryce met Stephen Francis the coach behind the success of Asafa Powell

Although she didn’t qualify for the 2007 Osaka World Championships, Fraser’s talent and skill earned her a place in Jamaica’s reserve team. It was also a time for her to build on her international experience. The only event she took part in was the 4 by 400m relay and won her first international silver medal with the team. 

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First 100m Olympic Gold Medal

2008 was a breakthrough year for Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce. To the surprise of many, she came second in the Jamaican Olympic trials, clocking 10.85 seconds in her first race under 11 seconds. 

Fraser-Pryce booked herself a spot at the Olympic Games in Beijing. By then, Shelly-Ann was relatively unknown and some even petitioned for the Jamaican association to pick an experienced athlete over her. However, they stuck to the rules and Fraser Pryce traveled to Beijing.

Fraser-Pryce crossed the finish line in the 100m race at a time of 10.78 seconds to clinch her first-ever Olympic Gold medal. She became the first Caribbean woman to win the gold medal in this event.

Speaking to NBC Sports, Fraser-Pryce looked back at this win.

“I was blown away because I never expected to win. I was just excited to be there. My goal was to make the team, and when I made the team it was to make the finals. To be able to come so far beyond that was just mind-blowing. I didn’t know what to do with myself.”

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London 2012 Olympic Gold Medal

Since Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce won her first medal, she clinched others in between the years in the lead-up to the London 2012 Games. The sprinter also served a six-month suspension after her sample tested positive for a banned narcotic oxycodone. 

She returned in time for the games and went on to defend her 100m title. Fraser-Pryce finished the race in 10.75 seconds, the second-fastest time in history. She became only the third woman to defend the 100m Olympic title. 

Recalling this moment, Fraser told NBC Sport:

“I was under a lot of pressure going into that Olympic Games. Definitely, I felt relieved crossing that line because I wanted it so bad. I wanted to back it up to prove that I’m good and that I belong.”  

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Tokyo 2022 Olympics 4 by 400m Relay Gold

After her dominance at the 2008 and 2012 100m races, Fraser-Pryce failed to defend her title at a third attempt at the Rio Olympic Games. The season didn’t go well for her as injury held her back. That said, she managed to win a bronze medal in the 100m. 

Before the Tokyo Olympic Games, the sprint queen took a break to have a child. After she came back, she clinched a Gold medal at the 2019 World Championship in Doha, the perfect preparation for the upcoming Olympics. 

In Tokyo, she won a silver medal in a time of 10.74 seconds. Her third Olympic Gold came in the 4 by 400m relay. Jamaica finished the race in 41.02 seconds.

On her bronze medal, Fraser-Pryce said:

“Disappointed but content. I had a horrible year dealing with a toe injury. I never thought I would actually make it to the national championship much less going to the games because I couldn’t train for months.”

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce has won more gold medals at the World Championships. Her tally now stands at 10. She’s undoubtedly one of the most decorated female sprinters of all time. 

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