Justin Gatlin heaps praise on retiring Fraser-Pryce. "Shelly-Ann has been such an inspiration to the sport for so long...she battled every elite of this era!"

By February 19, 2024

As news of her impending retirement continues to reverberate throughout the track and field community, two-time Olympic champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce continues to draw praise from some of the sport’s biggest stars.

The most recent to sing the Mommy Rocket’s praises were Olympic and World Champion Justin Gatlin and co-host Rodney Green on their Ready Set Go Podcast.

Since she won Olympic gold in Beijing in 2008, Fraser-Pryce has gone on to have one of the most dominating careers in track and field history. Her win in Beijing made her first Jamaican woman to win Olympic 100m gold. Her follow-up victory in 2012 made her only the third woman to win back-to-back Olympic titles joining other greats Wyoma Tyus and Gail Devers of the USA to accomplish the feat.

Winning the world 100 title in Berlin in 2009, saw her become the first woman to hold Olympic and World titles simultaneously, a feat she would accomplish twice after victories in London in 2012 and Moscow in 2013.

Feats such as these are why Green lamented her decision to hang up her spikes after what will be her fifth Olympic campaign in Paris this summer.

“Man, we ‘bout to lose a female juggernaut of our sport, man, a staple. I mean, I think in her country they should, I don't know if a statue would do or they should name a track or something, man. Man, we going to lose Shelly Ann Fraser-Pryce this year, man, this is our last year around the world, you know, competing. What do you think about that?

(Jamaica unveiled a statue of Fraser-Pryce at Independence Park in Kingston in 2018.)

In response, Gatlin, the 2004 Olympic 100m champion and 2005 and 2017 World Champion, lauded the Jamaica superstar for her work on and off the track, stating, “Man, Shelly-Ann has been such an inspiration to the sport for so long. Watching her make her first Olympic team in 2008 and her dominance for so many years into the sport and watching her grow. She was out there in the world and watching her mature into the powerful, successful woman she is now, hat’s off to her. She deserves everything.”

Gatlin, who enjoyed a fierce rivalry against Fraser-Pryce’s contemporary, Usain Bolt, made reference to her fierce rivalry with compatriot Elaine Thompson-Herah and what it did to bring energy to the sport.

“We wish she could run many, many more years because she is the kind of person that rises to the occasion,” said Gatlin of the Jamaican who has only once failed to win a 100m medal in a global championship. That was in 2011 when she finished fourth in the 100m final in Daegu, South Korea.

Fraser-Pryce won 100m gold at the World Championships in 2007, 2009, 2013, 2019 and 2022. She was third at the most recent championships in Budapest, Hungary. She missed the 2017 championship because she was pregnant with her son Zyon.

“Watching her duke it out with Elaine (Thompson-Herah) throughout the years,” Gatlin continued, “they’d be seeing who would get to 10-7 first and then who would get to 10-6, and it made for pure entertainment because they both rose to the occasion.”

Green then chimed in clarifying that Fraser-Pryce not only battled with her Jamaican counterpart but also with the very best the USA had to offer.

“Elaine is just the recent one. She battled with many people that banged, like Carmelita Jeter. She went back and forth with Jet, man. She went back and forth with Veronica Campbell from her own country and the late great Tori (Bowie).”

 Gatlin then said, “She battled every elite female in this era.”

“Juggernauts, 10-6, 10-7 women through time, man,” Green remarked. “Like she has been amazing to our sport, she has been graceful to our sport. She has been nothing but a class act and I just think she will definitely be missed.

“I think as she makes her rounds this year, around the world, farewell tour, every country she goes, win or loss, when she runs, they should let her do a lap man, because this is the last time we’re going to get to see an amazing athlete grace track and field; the Mommy Rocket. It’s sad to see her go but I understand why she has to go.”

In a recently published interview with Essence Magazine, the 37-year-old Fraser-Pryce explained that her decision to retire after the Olympic Games in Paris stems from her wanting to dedicate more time to her family.

“There’s not a day I’m getting up to go practise and I’m like, ‘I’m over this’,” she said. “My son needs me. My husband and I have been together since before I won in 2008. He has sacrificed for me.

“We’re a partnership, a team. And it’s because of that support that I’m able to do the things that I have been doing for all these years. And I think I now owe it to them to do something else.”

 

Gatlin said he understood her decision.

"She said she owes it to her family to do something else now, especially her husband said she's been competing from 2008.She's been married for some time now for her husband and her child too. She owes it to them to just do something else and that's very honorable. Absolutely.

"I mean, when you when you are an athlete of her stature, your time is limited because your focus is on your own success, because that's what got you to where you're at, and you try to kind of juggle or balance family time, personal life around your successful career but everything, everything in your life is kind of floating around track, so now it's like with her son becoming older and having more time to be able to be a wife and a mom that's important.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leighton Levy

Leighton Levy is a journalist with 28 years’ experience covering crime, entertainment, and sports. He joined the staff at SportsMax.TV as a content editor two years ago and is enjoying the experience of developing sports content and new ideas. At SportsMax.tv he is pursuing his true passion - sports.

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