Jamaican sprints queen Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who has nine world titles to her name, will be competing in the 100m in the Continental Gold Tour event at Kasarani.
Fraser-Pryce said the push by her Kenyan fans on her Facebook page lured her to compete at this year’s Absa Kip Keino Classic.
The 35-year-old Fraser-Pryce, who promised to give her Kenyans fans what they requested for, said Jamaicans, who are known for sprints, love going to countries that embrace and support them.
“My huge base of Kenyan fans on my social media pages have for long been requesting me to come compete in Kenya,” Fraser-Pryce said. “I want to repay that with a promise of a good, exciting and fast race of course.”
Fraser-Pryce said coming to Kenya where she intends to start her 100m season meant a lot to her and her fans too. “It was a long journey from my hometown of Kingston but it feels good to be in Kenya for the first time.”
Fraser-Pryce noted that their team that competed in World Athletics Under-20 Championships in Kenya last year, brought back home good memories.
Fraser-Pryce said she too is looking forward to having a fantastic race, and enjoying the experience in Kenya that is well known world over for athletics.
“The world talks about Kenya being the home of athletics and I definitely wanted to come here and open my season in 100m. Hopefully, I will be able to put up a solid race with good execution,” explained Fraser-Pryce, who is regarded as one of the greatest sprinters of all time.
“I also know that Kenya has 42 tribes but the Maasais are the most famous. That is why I look forward to Kenya’s great hospitality,” said Fraser-Pryce with a telling laugh.
Fraser-Pryce, who has seven medals from the Olympics and 12 from the World Athletics Championships, said the focus will be on making sure she starts the season well by having the right foundation ahead of the World Championships in July in Oregon, United States.
“I want to execute my technique the best way possible to make sure I get my core times and targets,” said the mother of one.
Fraser-Pryce, who won women’s 100m at the 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Olympics, said that competing against strong opponents like Tokyo Olympics 200m silver medallist Christine Mboma will bring out her “A” game.
“It’s definitely crucial because that way, you can practise what you have been doing in training. I want to focus on myself as an athlete and what I want to accomplish in 2022,” said Fraser-Pryce, who is a great admirer of former Olympic champions Ezekiel Kemboi (3,000m steeplechase) and Asbel Kiprop (1,500m).
"I loved his energy. It’s always good for us athletes when we step on the track to race and enjoy the moment when we cross the finishing line,” Fraser-Pryce said of Kemboi.
Fraser-Pryce, who ran a personal best 10.60 seconds from Lausanne’s leg of the Diamond League last year, said she wants to run 10.50 or even 10.40 this year. The time ranks her as the third fastest woman in history.
“I definitely think anything is possible this season after I had a good season, striking the third fastest time ever after the Tokyo Olympics,” said Fraser-Pryce, who has nine gold medals from the World Championships event.
She said the secret to her longevity and good performance is hunger, passion and the goals she has set. “One must never settle in,” said Fraser-Pryce.
Fraser-Pryce said she always thought she could run 10.60 and held that belief.
“I am glad I never stopped even after I gave birth to my son. I believed in a dream. I believe I can run 10.50 hence I am working towards that. It’s about passion and belief,” said Fraser-Pryce, adding that she has a dream that she must fulfil this year. “I am still in it and enjoying the moment as I look forward to adding more accolades to that.”
Fraser-Pryce hopes to inspire athletes that they can eventually start families, come from injuries or delays to perform well.
She said she will run sparingly this year as she strategises on the 2024 Paris Olympic Games.
“I won’t be able to do as much as I did last year. Age is catching up and I am no longer the spring chicken I was to be running all over. I will be strategic and think long term, especially the next Olympics,” she added.