Jamaica's Pocket Rocket Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce insists she's not stuck in shadow of Lightning Bolt

Fraser-Pryce still grabs headlines at home despite the popularity of a certain Usain

It was 7am on a Saturday and a small yellow car pulled up at the fence of the grass track at the U Tech campus on Old Hope Road, a mile or so up the street from Bob Marley's former home. Out climbed Jamaica's Olympic 100 metres champion – or Jamaica's other Olympic 100m champion, as Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce has become known to the world.

Across town, they had probably only just locked up at the Fiction Lounge, the nightclub frequented by the men's Olympic 100m champion, part of the complex that includes Usain Bolt's Tracks and Records, a bar, restaurant and music venue where you can buy Usain Bolt sauce and Usain Bolt coffee beans. Fraser-Pryce smiled at the mention of the establishment and the suggestion that – to the world beyond her Caribbean homeland at least – she was stuck in the shadow of the world's fastest man and the Lightning Bolt phenomenon.

"I've gone to Tracks and Records," she says. "I go there with my friends to eat and have fun. To me, Usain is Usain. He's doing wonderful. He deserves all of the attention he gets. For a man that's running so fast, he deserves it. I never feel I'm living in anybody's shadow. I never feel that, 'Oh, I deserve this amount of attention.' No I'm fine."

Jamaica's other Olympic 100m champion – indeed, the country's only other winner of an Olympic 100m crown, a feat she achieved, like Bolt, in both Beijing 2008 and London 2012 – happens to be a fine athlete in her own right and a very fine individual.

Fraser-Pryce was raised in the Kingston ghetto of Waterhouse, amid gangstas, guns and abject poverty. Her mother Maxine, a single parent, worked as a street vendor, earning them barely enough for an evening meal. When she started running, at the age of 10, she did so barefoot. Her family did not escape the ghetto violence. A cousin was shot dead.

And yet, at 26, the diminutive double-barrelled speed merchant – "the Pocket Rocket", as the Jamaican press call her – is an ever-smiling, unfailingly courteous 5ft ray of Caribbean sunshine. She is also one of only three women to have retained the Olympic 100m title, having followed in the spikemarks of the Americans Wyomia Tyus (1964 and 1968) and Gail Devers (1992 and 1996) when she crossed the finish line in London last August ahead of her US rival Carmelita Jeter in 10.75sec.

If she remains a somewhat under-valued sporting commodity on the international stage, dwarfed by the 6ft 5in Bolt, the same is not true in her homeland. On the drive into town from Norman Manley International Airport, there are as many advertising hoardings featuring the beaming Shelly-Ann as there are of the beanpole Bolt and the beastly Yohan Blake.

It is clear, after five days in town – two of them spent at Champs, the remarkable boys' and girls' schools' championships which fills the National Stadium, and from which Bolt, Blake, Fraser-Pryce and her training partner Asafa Powell have all emerged as world-beaters or world record-breakers in the blue riband 100m – that she commands as much respect as Jamaica's trail-blazing male sprinters.

"Yeah, I do," she acknowledged, ahead of early morning training with the MVP (Maximum Velocity and Power) sprint group coached by Stephen Francis at the University of Technology track. "I am huge here in Jamaica, right.

"Yesterday I sat in the National Stadium and I couldn't even get a chance to watch the races because I was having so many pictures taken and signing autographs. But this is where I train. This is home. This is where a lot of our younger athletes, our fans, get to see us and they realise that we're just as human as they are. We interact with the crowd and participate in things here.

"I love being here in Jamaica. When I go to Europe I'm not as recognised as I am here but it doesn't matter to me because I let my running speak for itself. I just go out and I compete and I enjoy what I do. It doesn't matter what anybody else in the outside world says. This is what I love doing."

It would probably be a little different if, like the Lightning Bolt, the Pocket Jamaican Rocket was blasting through the world record book. But, then, the women's world record for the 100m stands at an untouchable 10.49sec, set back in 1988 by Florence Griffith-Joyner, who promptly retired at the peak of her powers after the introduction of random drug testing in the wake of the Seoul Olympics and who died at the age of 38 in 1998.

Fraser-Pryce might be a double Olympic champion at the distance but she has not come within 0.20sec of Flo-Jo's mark – a street in sprinting terms. "Yeah," she reflected, "if a female athlete were to break that world record then of course they'd get a lot of attention. But, for me, as an athlete, the goal is always to go faster than I've gone the year before. And last year I ran 10.70sec.

"I went to the Olympics and I didn't run the way I wanted to but I still won, which for me gives me a lot of confidence as an athlete. I've come back here and I'm training really hard and I don't really look at the world record.

"Anything is possible. I'm a believer in God and if I work hard and continue to trust Him, who knows what will happen? But I'm not one of those persons who fantasise about breaking the world record. The aim is always to go faster than I've gone before."

Fastest female 100m runners

  • 10.49 Florence Griffith-Joyner (US) 1988
  • 10.64 Carmelita Jeter (US) 2009
  • 10.65 Marion Jones (US) 1998
  • 10.70 SHELLEY-ANN FRASER-PRYCE (Jamaica) 2012
  • 10.73 Christine Arron (France) 1998
  • 10.74 Merlene Ottey (Jam/Slovenia) 1996
  • 10.75 Kerron Stewart (US) 2009
  • 10.76 Evelyn Ashford (US) 1984
Sport
Alexis Sanchez has completed a £35m move to Arsenal, the club have confirmed
sportGunners complete £35m signing of Barcelona forward
Voices
Poor teachers should be fearful of not getting pay rises or losing their job if they fail to perform, Steve Fairclough, headteacher of Abbotsholme School, suggested
voicesChris Sloggett explains why it has become an impossible career path
Sport
world cup 2014
Sport
Popes current and former won't be watching the football together
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
News
Wayne’s estate faces a claim for alleged copyright breaches
newsJohn Wayne's heirs duke it out with university over use of the late film star's nickname
Arts and Entertainment
Celebrated children’s author Allan Ahlberg, best known for Each Peach Pear Plum
books
News
peopleIndian actress known as the 'Grand Old Lady of Bollywood' was 102
News
business
News
Mick Jagger performing at Glastonbury
people
Sport
Germany's Andre Greipel crosses the finish line to win the sixth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 194 kilometers (120.5 miles) with start in Arras and finish in Reims, France
tour de franceGerman champion achieves sixth Tour stage win in Reims
Extras
indybest
Life and Style
beautyBelgian fan lands L'Oreal campaign after being spotted at World Cup
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Chocolat author Joanne Harris has spoken about the financial struggles most authors face
books
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Business Analyst Consultant (Financial Services)

£60000 - £75000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Consultant (Fina...

Systems Administrator - Linux / Unix / Windows / TCP/IP / SAN

£60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A leading provider in investment managemen...

AVS, JVS Openlink Endur Developer

£600 - £700 per day: Harrington Starr: AVS, JVS Openlink Endur Developer JVS, ...

E-Commerce Developer

£45000 - £60000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Exciting opp...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice
Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

Hollywood targets Asian audiences

The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial
Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app - and my mum keeps trying to hook me up!'

Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app'

Five years on from its launch and Grindr is the world's most popular dating app for gay men. Its founder Joel Simkhai answers his critics, describes his isolation as a child
Autocorrect has its uses but it can go rogue with embarrassing results - so is it time to ditch it?

Is it time to ditch autocorrect?

Matthew J X Malady persuaded friends to message manually instead, but failed to factor in fat fingers and drunk texting