No woman athlete has ever won three 100m gold medals in Olympic history. With Beijing 2008 and London 2012 titles already in her bag, Jamaica’s Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce is on the verge of scripting her name in athletic history with the third 100m gold at 2016 Rio Olympics. Fraser-Pryce was not quite 1½ years old, when USA’s Florence Griffith Joyner set the 100m sprint record for women by clocking 10.49 seconds in July 1988 during the trials for the Seoul Olympic Games. The late Flo-Jo is still considered the fastest woman sprinter of all time as the 200m sprint record also stands against her name. During the 1988 Seoul Olympics, Flo-Jo breasted the tape in 21.34 second and created World and Olympic records. In 28 years, no woman has come closer to Flo-Jo’s time in 100m and 200m but the women’s sprint scene has now been captured by Jamaica’s pocket rocket, who stands just 5 feet from the ground and whose explosive starts from the blocks have already become legendary. Winner of 14 gold medals in major tournaments since the 2008 Beijing Olympics, where she won the 100m gold, Fraser-Price hasn’t looked back. As she goes to Rio in August 2016, the pint-sized Jamaican is heavy favorite for her third 100m gold after also winning the top slot in London’s 2012 Games. Along with her compatriot and world-famous male sprinter Usain Bolt, Fraser-Price will have a tough field but she is focused on her historical goal. Whether or not she could ever reach Flo-Jo’s time, is a debatable subject.
It will not be denied that one Jamaican athlete, who changed the world sprint scene in the nineties was Merlene Ottey. She won 9 Olympic medals in her career but could never win the gold. However Ottey won three golds each in World Championships and World Indoor Championships. Again, none of these came in 100m sprints. However, in 200m, Ottey outdid everyone twice in World Championships and twice more in the World Indoor Championships. That essentially has been the difference between Ottey and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce. Since her phenomenal run at 100m at 2008 Beijing Games, which fructified in the gold medal, Fraser-Pryce has established herself firmly in the short sprint categories of 100m and 200m. Apart from two back-to-back Olympic gold medals in Beijing and London, Fraser-Pryce has clinched 7 gold medals in the World Championships since the 2009 event in Berlin, where she won in 100m and 4×100 relays. After finish fourth behind Trinidad and Tobago’s Kelly-Ann Kaylene Baptiste at Daegu’s 2011 World Championships, Fraser-Pryce stormed back in Moscow’s 2013 Championships to win both the 100 and 200m golds. At 2015 World Championships at Beijing, Fraser-Pryce took her third 100m gold after Berlin and Moscow, but didn’t participate in 200m.
As Fraser-Pryce gets ready for Rio, she is aware of other women, who could pose serious challenge to her. Women’s field is currently exploding with speed and last year, a little-known 16-year old American Candace Hill breached the 11-second barrier in 100m. Among many others, Netherlands’ Dafne Schippers could be a more serious threat to Fraser-Pryce than anyone else. Schippers was 0.05 seconds behind Fraser-Pryce in 100m at Beijing and swept the field to win the 200m gold. Only last week, Schippers outran everyone in 60m sprint at the Karlsruhe World Indoor Meet to announce her emerging status. Regardless, Fraser-Pryce is all set to create her unique status in Olympic history by taking the third successive 100m gold at Rio de Janeiro. Besides, Fraser-Pryce, only two American women have won back-to-back gold medals in 100m. Wyomia Tyus did that in 1964 Tokyo Games and followed that with the top spot in 1968 Olympics at Mexico City. Gail Devers repeated that feat in 1992 at Barcelona and 1996 at Atlanta. Incidentally, it was Jamaica’s mercurial Merlene Ottey, whom Devers beat at Atlanta. Ottey has since assumed the Slovenian nationality.
Beside, first-time Olympic runner Dafne Schippers, Nigeria’s Blessing Okagbare, Ivory Coast’s Murielle Ahoure and USA’s Tori Bowie are some of the other sprinters, who could pose a threat to the 29 year old Fraser-Pryce. The Jamaican, however, is busy focusing in her training at home to carve out her place by taking the unprecedented third Olympic gold medal on trot and become the undisputed Queen of Speed. 100m has now become a fabulous field with a number of women athletes having breached the 11-second mark. The race is usually decided by the way an athlete pulls out of the blocks and zooms away in the last few steps through the finish line. Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce has done that so many times and it will not be a huge surprise if she pumps away once again to a glorious and historic finish at Rio.