‘I think we represent the hope of so many girls from the country’: Team Jamaica’s stellar sprinters on inspiring the younger generation at Tokyo 2020 | CNN




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In 2008, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce made Olympic historical past at the Beijing Games, when she and fellow Jamaican sprinters Sherone Simpson and Kerron Stewart gained their island’s first-ever podium sweep in the ladies’s 100m ultimate.

The then 21-year-old Fraser-Pryce ran the occasion in 10.78 seconds to assert gold, only a day after Olympic legend Usain Bolt gained his – and his nation’s – first-ever males’s 100m Olympic crown.

At this 12 months’s Tokyo Olympics, a streak of inexperienced, black and yellow flashed previous the end line in the ladies’s 100m ultimate as soon as once more, when Team Jamaica earned a clear sweep of the podium – this time with Elaine Thompson-Herah, Fraser-Pryce and Shericka Jackson taking gold, silver and bronze respectively.

“I guess I had the honor of being a part of both,” Fraser-Pryce advised CNN Sport’s Coy Wire.

“Look at us, we’re in the right colors. I mean, it’s awesome […] to be able to rise to the top of the world again,” she provides.

It’s been 13 years since Fraser-Pryce final stood shoulder-to-shoulder on an Olympic podium along with her teammates after the ladies’s 100m, and he or she says victory tastes sweeter the second time round.

“I think, boy, you know, God has been good to us. We are a blessed, blessed nation,” she says, paying homage to her predecessors, together with Merlene Ottey and Deon Hemmings – the first ever Jamaican girl to win Olympic gold.

For Thompson-Herah, who grew up watching Fraser-Pryce as a teen, having the alternative to share such a momentous victory is “a wonderful feeling.”

“I’ve seen that when I was not an elite athlete watching back home,” she says. “So for us to repeat that once more, it’s a good feeling to be a part of that history, and to be amongst these ladies.”

Two-time Olympian Thompson-Herah made historical past on Saturday, when she broke Florence Griffith-Joyner’s 33-year-old report set in Seoul to win the gold with a time of 10.61 seconds. But she doesn’t need the pleasure of one Olympic victory to cloud the probability of one other.

“Honestly, I’m shaking right now […] I’m speechless,” Thompson-Herah says. “I have to just continue to have that focus. I don’t want to drain my energy off getting too excited for the first medal […] I have goosebumps.”

She went on to win the ladies’s 200m ultimate on Tuesday, changing into the first ever girl to win the 100m and 200m dash double at two consecutive Olympic Games.

Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

Thompson-Herah celebrates profitable the gold medal in the ladies’s 200m ultimate on August 03 in Tokyo.

Defending champion Thompson-Herah, who gained the ladies’s 100m title throughout her first Games at Rio in 2016, says she appreciates the sacrifices that athletes and their groups make to maintain their Olympic goals alive.

“It takes a lot of hard work and dedication and sacrifice […] for us as athletes. I don’t think people know what we have gone through. We don’t party, we don’t drink, we don’t eat bad,” she says.

“For us to come out here on an international platform to raise our flag […], our anthem is actually our prayer. So for that to play twice in the Olympic Stadium, it warms my heart,” she provides.

After the Games were postponed for a 12 months in March 2020 on account of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the emotional and monetary burden of coaching for Tokyo 2020 was exacerbated – one thing Fraser-Pryce can attest to.

“I think it was very difficult because for a lot of us […] you can’t travel, a lot of Covid tests. You have to make sure that you’re otherwise restricted in certain areas. I know for me at the gym, I have to be lifting in a mask and I don’t think that’s healthy, but you know, it’s something that you have to do,” she says.

“I think when each of us go home and we look at our medal, we’ll understand that how great of an achievement we have done, given the circumstances,” Fraser-Pryce provides.

When Thompson-Herah, Fraser-Pryce and Jackson crossed the end line on Saturday, they had been met with little cheering, on account of Tokyo’s coronavirus state of emergency and lack of followers all through a lot of the Games.

But for 27-year-old Jackson, the welcome from Japanese followers has been energetic nonetheless. “It’s a great feeling here. I love it here,” she says.

Her teammates agree, with Fraser-Pryce including that, “the reception and the people, just the joy and the energy is just unlike anywhere else we’ve been.”

Despite crossing the finish line in a spectator-less stadium, Thompson-Herah, Fraser-Pryce and Jackson say that Japanese fans have made them feel welcome in Tokyo.

ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP/Getty Images

Despite crossing the end line in a spectator-less stadium, Thompson-Herah, Fraser-Pryce and Jackson say that Japanese followers have made them really feel welcome in Tokyo.

For four-time Olympian Fraser-Pryce, a world pandemic has been only one of the many challenges that she’s confronted throughout her profession.

In 2017, she had an emergency C-section when she had her son Zyon, subsequently taking two years away from the observe to rehabilitate and focus on motherhood.

However, she made a spectacular comeback in 2019, when she gained the ladies’s 100m ultimate at the World Championships in Doha to stake her claim as one of the biggest feminine sprinters of all time.

Now, she says that with the ability to return to the observe from being pregnant and nonetheless make her mark as one of the fiercest rivals of her sport, “means the world.”

“As an athlete, there are so many things you don’t want to do to risk your career,” she says. “There’s not a lot of women who decide to start a family and come back, not a lot of women also get praised for it. There’s always critics that be like, ‘Oh, she’s finished, she needs to go home and raise her child, she needs to stop thinking about track,’ stuff like that.”

“It was hard but you know, I’m grateful for the resilience and the gift that God has given me and I never lose hope in that, if you never lose hope, or stop believing in the things that you believe, first, then you know the sky’s the limit,” she provides.

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce of Jamaica celebrates her incredible comeback to the track with her son Zyon, after winning the women's 100m final at the 2019 World Athletics Championships in Doha.

Michael Steele/Getty Images

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce of Jamaica celebrates her unimaginable comeback to the observe along with her son Zyon, after profitable the ladies’s 100m ultimate at the 2019 World Athletics Championships in Doha.

Thompson-Herah, who has been battling decrease leg and Achilles accidents over the previous couple of years, says that talking constructive affirmations to treatment her nerves has been essential to her Olympic success.

“My friends and my husband taught me don’t be negative, just be positive. And I’ve been doing that for the past couple of years,” she says, “I’ve been struggling with injuries […] I still come out here, even with the nerves that I have behind those smiles.”

Fraser-Pryce agrees, saying that “there’s nothing wrong with speaking what you desire, what you want to achieve.”

Fraser-Pryce, who crossed the line 0.13 seconds after Thompson-Herah at the ladies’s 100m ultimate, admits that there’s a fantastic line between desirous to win medals in your nation versus your self.

“I think it’s normal to be competitors and understand that we all want to win. We want to go out and want to run our best race,” she says. “So you still have to take what you can from it, even in your disappointment, you have to take the good from it. I don’t think there’s any hard feelings.”

The three sprinters admit that their desire to beat each other has helped elevate them as a team.

Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

The three sprinters admit that their need to beat one another has helped elevate them as a crew.

She additionally acknowledges that their aggressive need to beat one another has elevated them as a crew.

“If you have competitors that continue to push you, then you’re able to get to the target that you set for yourself as well,” she says. “If I’m lining up at the line, I want to line up with my fiercest competitors […] I can’t make any mistakes because I have to be ready to perform under pressure.”

The trio acknowledges that with their collective achievement, they may encourage a generation of younger Jamaicans to copy historical past as soon as once more.

“I’m just excited for all of us and what it means for the young girls back home,” Fraser-Pryce says. “I think it speaks to just the dominance and the legacy that we have in Jamaica. And I’m hoping that it continues for years to come.”

“None of us here are from privileged backgrounds. We all had a hard time growing up. And to look at us, I think we represent the hope of so many girls from the country […] we represent different parts of Jamaica,” she provides.



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