Internationally renowned sprinter Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce has declared that she loves the maquette unveiled in her honour today, adding that it is a dedication to people who helped her prior to stardom, and to those on the verge of giving up due to poverty and other challenges.
The life-size statue will, in October, be erected close to Usain Bolt’s at Statue Park, National Stadium, Kingston.
“The statue is actually at the wharf here [in Jamaica], and will be cleared next week,” sports minister Olivia Grange announced. “I am announcing here today [June 23] that the Shelly-Ann statue will be erected in October 2018.”
Local sculptor Basil Watson, who interviewed Fraser-Pryce before starting the job, said he wanted to capture the athlete he saw celebrating victory in the 100m final at the Beijing Olympics a decade ago.
He noted that Fraser-Pryce is usually ‘loud’ in celebrating. As shown in the maquette, the athlete even threw a fist in the air after the Beijing win.
“What I wanted displayed in the sculpture was that determined, strong, powerful, exuberant young girl that I saw in 2008,” Watson said, adding that the athlete is one of his heroines.
He added: “As much as it is a tribute to Shelly-Ann, I think my main responsibility is to encourage and motivate generations ahead.”
Fraser-Pryce told the audience – including her mother Maxine Simpson, husband Jason Pryce and baby Zyon – that she loves the creation.
She said it is also a representation of her coaches, sponsors, and other people who ‘poured’ into her before her rise to stardom.
“The maquette is right there and I am looking at it. I love it. What I am looking at is not only a maquette of Shelly-Ann…but the persons who poured into Shelly-Ann,” she said.
“I am grateful for my career so far, and what I have been able to achieve. When persons look at the statue, I want them to look at strength and hard work. I also want them to look at it and say, it doesn’t matter where you are from, who you are born to; it is about how you finish.”
Fraser-Pryce also took the audience, gathered at Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, to the tough Waterhouse in Kingston where she struggled as a child.
“I remember growing up in Waterhouse; I remember sleeping on one bed with my mother and my two brothers. I remember questioning why is it that I was poor, why is it that I didn’t have the family structure that everybody else had when I was going to school, why is it that I was different, [and] why is it that my life was so complicated and so hard.
“Today, I know why. Who I am, the strength that I possess, [and] the quality that I have are because of who I am, where I am coming from, and how my mother raised me,” Fraser-Pryce said, sparking resounding applause.
Fraser-Pryce, in the meantime, was on the receiving end of glowing tributes from some of the powerhouses in local athletics.
President of the Jamaica Olympic Association Christopher Samuda spoke highly of her; so too did President of the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association Dr Warren Blake.
Dr Blake said Frase-Pryce and other athletes deserve national honour.
“We give them financial rewards, but usually that can never be enough, because the value they have brought to brand Jamaica is beyond anything that we could ever repay them for…”
“Every nation needs its heroes and heroines, and Ambassador Fraser-Pryce is a truly remarkable woman and a fitting hero of Jamaica,” added Dr Blake.
Much of his sentiment was shared by the sports minister, Grange, who noted that statues will also be mounted of two other national athletes – Asafa Powell and Veronica Campbell-Brown. Usain Bolt’s was erected last year.
Grange, in the meantime, outlined some of the accomplishments of the woman of the moment.
She said Fraser-Pryce is the only female sprinter to be crowned IAAF World Champion over the 100m three times, the second female sprinter to hold both World and Olympic 100m titles simultaneously, and the third woman to win two consecutive 100m gold medals at the Olympics.
By Horace Mills