The sun came out in full force Saturday, August 4, in London and so dispelled the clouds and drizzle that had marked the early part of the day. It was a signal that something good was going to happen, coming as it did on the day when Jamaica was poised to be represented in a final event on the Olympic stadium track here in London. The event was the blue riband hundred metres for women and in keeping with that prestige it was the last event scheduled on the track for the night.
Although Jamaica could boast the reigning 100 metres Olympic Champion in the person of Jamaica’s national champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, America’s Carmelita Jetter, who had almost dominated the event over the previous two years, is the reigning World Champion and had even won the event at the Jamaica Invitational meet earlier this year. Not so last night though. In significantly less than 11 seconds (in track and field terms), Shelly Ann Fraser-Pryce underlined her claim to be the world’s fastest woman by winning the gold medal in a time of 10.75 seconds, trailed by Jetter (10.78) and teammate Veronica Campbell-Brown (10.81). In fact, six of the eight finalists clocked under 11 seconds. Two other U.S. sprinters Tianna Madison (10.85) and Allyson Felix (10.89) were fourth and fifth, while Trinidad and Tobago’s Kelly-Ann Baptiste was the other sprinter to dip under the 11 seconds barrier by clocking 10.94.
The Jamaican Champion got off to her trademark rocket start and led from post to post. Although photographs were consulted in determining the winner there was no doubt in the crowd who had won.
The victory for Fraser-Pryce meant that she is now the third woman to successfully defend the 100-metre title. Interestingly, the other two were from the US, Gail Devers, who won in Barcelona and Atlanta and Wyomia Tyus in Tokyo and Mexico City.
As the hundreds of Jamaican supporters celebrated in the crowd Campbell-Brown and Fraser-Pryce embraced each other gleefully in congratulations prior to circling the track while acknowledging the cheers. After the race Fraser-Pryce told journalists her victory in Beijing was completely different. “There I was inexperienced. I was young and I never believed I could win.” The transition in her personality is easy to see. The pleasantly shy and self-effacing 21-year old girl of 2008 is now a self-assured spouse who moves with a swagger born out of the self-confidence that has come with her repeated successes on the international track and field circuit.
It has been an open secret that the American track and field fraternity had been ‘chomping at the bits’ in anticipation of reclaiming the Olympic sprint titles starting with the 100 metres for women. Unfortunately for them, Mrs Fraser-Pryce is not done yet. She is also down to compete in the 200 metres as well as the 4×100 metres relay for women. “I came here on a mission and it hasn’t been completed yet,” she said.
Veronica Campbell-Brown also expressed delight on winning another Olympic medal. “I got a medal and I’m happy to be on the podium.”
Tomorrow, the might of Jamaica’s male sprinters led by defending champion Usain Bolt, accompanied by World Champion Yohan Blake and former world record holder Asafa Powell, are also expected to make history. The Olympic programme has scheduled the presentation of the 100 metres medals for men to be on August 6 the same day when Jamaica commemorates its Golden Jubilee.