SHELLY-ANN FRASERPRYCE is without question Jamaica’s most accomplished female athlete. Whether or not it is accepted or appreciated by those who are employed to structure and steer her career and, by natural extension, her life, she is a model of outwardly displayed decency, dignity and decorum. Breaking into the golden limelight of Olympic achievement at the 2008 Beijing event, amid thoughts of ‘too inexperienced’, she thrashed the critics who contributed to that limiting sentiment. Her remarkable feats in the ensuing years are etched in the pages of sporting history, indisputably and indelibly stamping her as the greatest of her gender in her time. At the Rio Olympics of 2016, the pint-sized warrior was faced with a task of world record-breaking proportions. Taking a third 100m win was going to be unprecedented for any gender. That so, as Usain Bolt’s similar crowning, would still be a day away. However, there existed a major hurdle. A lingering toe injury, which limited her to a single individual event, stood in her path to additional awe-inspiring achievement. The bronze medal she successfully engineered came with the burdensome baggage of excruciating pain as she traversed the agony of the preliminary rounds. The winner and new sprint queen was her MVP teammate, the new girl on the Jamaican frontier, Elaine Thompson. The manner in which the visibly hurting Wolmer’s Girls’ School graduate offered postrace support to her successor at the top revealed another character trait. It spoke to an inner confidence in circumstances where a less-than-worthy assessment of self would have been understandable. The ‘Shelly’ on show was down, but clearly, not out. It was tantamount to a shout of ‘I’ll be back!’ Then came what was described in a section of the press as the ‘Shelly Shocker’. Jamaica’s elite female sprinter was parting company with the MVP Track Club. It was the coaching and technical guidance venue that she had graced for her entire professional career, lasting in the vicinity of nine years.
Sifting the responses, inadequate and unacceptable handling of her toe injury by the club’s management team appeared as the most likely cause.
Foster’s Fairplay has commented on the likelihood of a reverse move.
Was it conceivable that the MVP could stomach what would be a body blow to its well-established mantra?
After all, has there ever been a case where an athlete taking or being shown the exit door has been allowed a 180-degree turn?
The stage for an amelioration of sorts was set in a television programme covering the Rio Olympics. The MVP President, Bruce James, who displays a particular interest in Fraser-Pryce, was invited by fellow panellists to address the then justannounced cleavage in the club’s ranks.
With the actual recording of his response unavailable, inference can still be adduced or at least attempted. The highly respected track and field analyst was plunged into a mode which suggested ‘no separation can be confirmed without my input’. These are the words of Foster’s Fairplay and not the man himself.
As a matter of fact, the interpretation of his manner included a ‘wait until I speak to her and I will put the matter in true perspective’.
For this columnist to cite him as saying, in a summation of his expressed thoughts, ‘I exercise significant influence over her decisions’, which, to emphasise, he did not, it would merely be a misquote and not a misrepresentation of his perceived position.
His overall attitude indicated surprise on hearing the news of the intended departure of the sprinting empress, followed by paternal concern, and to cap it all, ‘Don’t worry, I’ll fix it’.
With all that ‘in charge of things’ display, it was not a shock when news filtered across the sporting landscape that the athlete had lit the proverbial candle and was singing her way home.
Foster’s Fairplay has tried to confirm with James. What came back was a little more than nothing. The level of secrecy surrounding her present condition after surgery and a time frame to resume preparation for the upcoming season was alarming.
It was certainly not what the lovers of the sport and Fraser-Pryce herself deserved for their careerlong adoration and support.
The MVP must do better.