So happy to see Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce win the Laureus Award. Since my first interview with SAFP in 2011, she has always been gracious, funny and thoughtful in interviews. This is a wonderful tribute by Deji Ogeyingbo.

Laureus Sports Award: Beyond the raw numbers, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce wins a reflection of how much she has transcended athletics

There are few people in this world who are recognizable only by their first names. Fewer still are women in sports. Fraser-Pryce is an exceptional human who has transcended the shores of dominating our athletics. The average kid wants to pick up a running shoe because of her impact on the sport. 

The fact that she narrows that niche further still, as a woman of color, maybe shouldn’t matter, but it does. Because Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce has changed what it means to be a sportswoman, to be a successful Black woman who comes from an Island nation of fewer than 3 million people, to be a mother, to be so much more than the sum of all of her achievements. 

World 100m champion @realshellyannfp was named Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year tonight at the prestigious 2023 @LaureusSport Awards in Paris.#Laureus23

— World Athletics (@WorldAthletics) May 8, 2023

Fraser-Pryce scooped sport’s most prestigious award- Laureus Sports Woman of the Year ahead of fellow track star Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone, Alexa Putellas (Football), Katie Ledecky (Swimming), Iga Swiatek (Tennis) and Mikaela Shiffrin (Alpine Skiing). She is the second consecutive Jamaican sprinter to win the award after Elaine Thompson-Herah. This award is synonymous with the Oscars, and as we know, only the very best are deserving of them. 

On and off the track, Fraser-Pryce’s cerebral and magnificent appearance is worthy of emulation for generations to come, and her impact off the track is even more profound, even more enduring, and even more wide-reaching. That is why the diminutive Jamaican is and will continue to be so celebrated. In an age when women are still pressured to choose between career and motherhood, strength and beauty, sport or fashion, success or popularity, one box or another, Fraser-Pryce is all of it and so much more.

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce after her Laureus Sportswoman of the year award in Paris.

— oluwadare (@Track_Gazette) May 8, 2023

Athletics fans who have followed her know that her greatness goes beyond what she achieved last year. That doesn’t mean we should throw it out the window because, for a 36-year-old, the numbers were just staggering. The Jamaican had a phenomenal year in which she became the 100m world champion for the fifth time as she became the oldest sprinter to win a world title in an individual running event. Fraser-Pryce ran inside 10.70s seven times last year, with the biggest of them coming at the world championships in Oregon, in which she ran 10.67.

Many of her fans far and wide will know and celebrate her, specifically in ways in which she has changed the sport, of course. Her style on the track has been transformational. The physical strength and technical prowess she brought to women’s sprinting have taken it to a new level and demanded her rivals to compete on a similar level if they were to be any match.

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, photo by Weltklasse Zurich

Fraser-Pryce’s greatest achievements are in transcending how we view athletics, in transcending all of sport, because only then do athletes really make a difference. On and off it. Only then do they prove to us why sport matters and the many ways it does? The viral video that saw her compete in her son’s Interhouse sport was a case in point. It was a testament to how much she’s loved outside the realm of athletics.

This award that only a handful of great sportsmen and women have gotten further indicates how special she is. Women have been lorded over since dawn with the small-framed image of perfection, as initiated through the male gaze and perpetuated by high fashion. Here is a powerful and graceful specimen of beauty, and she is someone who empowers through her inspiration. There is nothing effortless about Fraser-Pryce’s stature, it has visibly required an insane amount of dedication. Literal blood, sweat, and tears.

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, is five time W 100m champion! World Athletics Championships
Eugene, Oregon, USA
July15-26, 2022, photo by Kevin Morris

Fraser-Pryce’s running career may be nearing the end, but the woman who has transcended her sport, who has extolled motherhood, who has given all of the sport a role model we can be proud of, will have to channel all that energy, drive and magnificence somewhere.