Jamaican sprint legend Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce won her record fourth women’s 100 metres world title in Doha on Sunday in stunning style but in a stadium that was barely half-full.
The 32-year-old – also a two-time Olympic champion – coasted to an impressive victory in a world leading time for the year of 10.71 seconds.
Fraser-Pryce – sporting a multi-coloured wig – punched the air in front of the Jamaican team seated in the stands before taking a national flag from them.
She collected her two-year-old son Zyon – he was born the day after the 2017 championships had finished which prevented her from defending her title in London – and paraded with him round the track passing sections that were totally devoid of spectators.
“To be standing here as world champion again after having my baby, I am elated,” said Fraser-Pryce. “The females keep showing up. We love to put on a performance and for me I am just really happy to come away with the win.”
Fraser-Pryce, who announced her talent when she took Olympic gold 11 years ago in Beijing, confessed that eve of final nerves had got to her.
“I had no sleep last night. Last time I was at a major championship was in 2016 and that feeling of ‘oh my God I need bed’ - it was just not happening. For me it is just experience and knowing some days will be good but mental toughness will get me through.”
Fraser-Pryce, who won her first world 100m title in 2009, said having Zyon had given her a real boost even though he is yet to show the same aptitude having refused to start his first race at nursery school ealrier this year.
“My son Zyon has been my strength, my family and husband have been my strength,” she said. “Having my son and coming back, performing the way I did, I hope I can give inspiration to all the women starting a family or thinking of starting a family. You can do anything. It’s about who you are and why you started in the first place.”
Fraser-Pryce, though, announced later at a press conference there will be no tilt at a second world sprint double.
“My coach made the decision I would not be doing the 200,” she said. “He believes I am not really back and did not want to push me too much. He believes I will definitely do the double in 2020 (Olympics) and I have to trust him he is the coach.”
Britain’s European champion Dina Asher-Smith took silver in a national record of 10.83 seconds whilst 2017 silver medalist Marie-Josee Ta Lou took the bronze in 10.90.
Asher-Smith – who in the London 2012 Olympics carried the kit of athletes competing in the track and field and was inspired by heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis-Hill – said she hoped the silver would be the launchpad for greater things.
“I worked so hard for this, for this championship, and hopefully I’ll go on to do bigger things,” she said. “When I stood on the line I was thinking right, this is your time to go. A personal best, a national record – that is more than you can ask for in a final. Shelly-Ann did a fantastic performance and that’s why she’s an absolute legend. I am happy!”
Asher-Smith’s chances of greater things may come sooner than she thought as Fraser-Pryce’s decision to skip the 200m opens it up for the European champion.
Two-time defending 200m champion Dafne Schippers will be a major doubt for Monday’s heat after withdrawing from the 100m final and leaving the warm-up track in tears.
A new 100m champion was assured when name defending titleholder Tori Bowie scratched from her semi-final on what was a disastrous evening for the American quartet.
National champion Teahna Daniels was the only one to reach the final and she finished seventh and last.