DOHA (Reuters) – The search is on for the new face of athletics following the retirement of Usain Bolt and the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) might have just found that person on Sunday – 100 meters women’s world champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce.
The hunt for Bolt’s successor has largely been restricted to the men’s side of the entry list, with flamboyant American Noah Lyles, who will go for 200m gold on Monday, and newly minted men’s 100m world champion Christian Coleman repeatedly asked if they might be the man for the job.
As it turns out it just might be a woman – Fraser-Pryce – who ticks all the boxes.
A superstar has been sitting right under the noses of the IAAF, who must surely sit up and take notice of the Jamaican who claimed her fourth 100m world championship gold medal on Sunday to go along with two Olympic golds and perhaps more to come next year at the Tokyo Summer Games.
The 32-year-old now stands alone in terms of world champions, her four titles one better than Usain Bolt and Americans Carl Lewis and Maurice Greene.
“It’s a victory for motherhood,” smiled Fraser-Pryce, who took a victory lap around a nearly vacant Khalifa Stadium with her son Zyon nestled into her shoulder. “I’m really excited about tonight.
“It took a lot of hard work, a lot of sacrifice to get to this point.
“A lot of people say that I should retire and go out gracefully.
“Honestly, I am more working hard and trying to run fast … I feel good, I am excited I was able to come here and put on a show,” she said.
Just as important as talent, which Fraser-Pryce possesses in buckets, the next face of the sport will also need a golden personality and human interest capable of drawing in fans, marketers and sponsors.
The Jamaican’s playful and colorful personality was reflected in her hairstyle selection during the championships, switching from a blinding yellow in the opening round to a multi-color coif for the finals.
Fraser-Pryce has added another dimension to her story with the birth of her son and a determined fight back to the very top of the sport.
“It was definitely a long journey physically coming back from having my son and mentally was even harder … I really just worked harder,” said Fraser-Pryce. “It’s one of the those moments I’m really proud of in athletics.
“It’s difficult to take time off and come back into sprinting. It’s a moment to cherish because he reminded me how I had to work and fight.”
Reporting by Steve Keating; Editing by Paul Tait
Published on Reuters.com Sept. 29, 2019