Jamaica Observer: By Rachid Parchment – Multiple-time Olympic and world champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce says while it is flattering to be in the conversation of who is the greatest athlete of all time, she is not too concerned about it.

Fraser-Pryce, 35, had arguably the best season of her career, which saw her take an unprecedented fifth World Athletics 100m title in Eugene, Oregon, last summer and a fourth Wanda Diamond League crown in the women’s 100m event.

Fraser-Pryce was also conferred with the fifth highest-national honour, the Order of Jamaica, Commander Class, for outstanding performance in the field of athletics on Heroes’ Day, last week.

These accolades, which round off three Olympic gold medals, 10 world titles, 30 overall senior career medals, an Order of Distinction, and being the third-fastest woman of all time over 100m, at 10.60 seconds, have sparked debate whether Fraser-Pryce is the greatest female athlete of all time across all sporting disciplines. She has been compared to footballer Marta of Brazil, gymnast Simone Biles, and tennis’ Serena Williams, both from the United States.

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce of Jamaica competes in the women’s 200m semi-final during the World Athletics Championships at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon, on July 19, 2022 – Photo: AFP

But Fraser-Pryce is unconcerned about how the world ranks her and says that what matters to her is that she has hit heights she never thought possible before ending her career.

“Honestly, it doesn’t matter to me,” she told the Jamaica Observer.

“I’m just doing what I do because I love what I do. I really want to make sure that when I’m finished with track and field, I would have given myself the opportunity to surpass my own expectations.

“The goal is always to be and become extraordinary. It’s making sure that I evolve as I go, making sure that I find something and I zone in on it and say, ‘This is what I want,’ and I literally strive towards that.”

But Fraser-Pryce says that despite all the accomplishments, she had to first overcome feelings of self-doubt, especially earlier in her career.

“As an athlete, especially a young athlete, when I was growing up, I never had that belief in myself at first, and my mindset has been the greatest asset that I’ve had throughout my years, being an elite athlete,” she said.

“I’ve always thought I’m very good at what I do. To be able to accomplish the things I did this year is only by the grace of God, honestly, because I worked really, really hard and this time around, I was more content than ever, knowing that I belonged and knowing that I was having fun and there was a sense of being at peace. To even be considered as one of the greatest is truly within itself remarkable.”

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce – BBC Sport

But at 35 years old, and now competing and winning against athletes who were children when she emerged as a senior career, Fraser-Pryce’s career seems to only be going from strength to strength. She ran below 10.7 seconds on seven occasions last season. Four of those times were 10.67, one being in the women’s 100m final in Eugene. This clocking of 10.67 stood as a world-leading time until she lowered it to 10.62 at the Monaco leg of the Wanda Diamond League in August. While she is running the best times of her career at this relatively late stage, she said it only looks effortless from the stands and on television.

“It’s not easy,” she said. “I definitely feel good. I said to my coach Reynaldo Walcott that I’m waiting [for a potential drop in form. Maybe one day I’m gonna wake up and it’s gonna hit me like a bag o’ salt, but honestly, I feel refreshed, and ready — energised. I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that I’m goal-driven. I know that there’s something out there for me to achieve and I’m relentless in that effort in making sure that I do everything in my power to give myself a fair chance. That has definitely been keeping me.”

Fraser-Pryce’s personal best is just 110 milliseconds off the world record set by the late Florence Griffith Joyner, at 28 years old, in 1988.

Top Feature Photo: FRASER-PRYCE…I’m just doing what I do because I love what I do – Photo: AFP