Top Jamaican sprinters Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Elaine Thompson-Herah ruled the women’s 100m finals show at the Tokyo Olympics along with fellow compatriot Shericka Jackson. However, rumours are that these two sprinting sensations may not be the best of friends off the track.
Both Shelly-Ann and Elaine trained under the same coach Stephen Francis of MVP Track Club for several years. Both recruited during their time at the University of Technology, Jamaica.
The 2016 Rio Olympics:
In weeks before the 2016 Rio Olympics, Shelly-Ann struggled to reach her form after an onset of sesamoiditis early in her season. The season that year became highly competitive with many of her rivals clocking sub-10 seconds while she remained the only one with sub-11 times ranking her as the 8th fastest in the world.
Meanwhile, Elaine Thompson-Herah was being ruled as the top contender for the gold medal. In the Olympic Trials she gave a world-leading time of 10.70 seconds defeating Shelly-Ann and equalling her 100m national record. Thompson-Herah joined Fraser-Pryce on the 4th spot of all-time lists.
At the actual Rio Games, defending champion Shelly-Ann couldn’t complete her golden 100m hattrick and had to settle for a bronze while Elaine emerged as the double champion in 100m and 200m. Although proud of her performance, Shelly-Ann briefly parted ways with their mutual long-time coach Stephen Francis post the Rio Olympics.
At the end of August, Francis disclosed the reasons for Shelly-Ann’s departure from MVP Track Club. “Shelly informed me that she was unhappy with the job I had done with her this year,” he told the The Gleamer. “She had some good years, but looking at the future, I think she has every right to assess what is good for her. Staying with me as her coach was not best for her and so she told me that she was going to leave,” he added.
He was further asked if the rise of Elaine Thompson-Herah played a role in her decision. “I think we should take her word as it is. I mean, it is impossible for anybody to know what is in her mind. I have the tendency to take people’s words as they know what is going on inside of them, so even though it is tempting to make that kind of connection, I think it is perfectly reasonable that she doesn’t think what is being done in her training is good for her as she thinks that what has been done the past year was enough to have held her back, and she wants to move on,” he answered.
However, without any official announcement, Shelly-Ann and Stephen Francis reconciled. And she started training at the MVP Track Club in November that year.
2020 Tokyo Olympics
In May 2021, it was reported that Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce had left MVP Track Club at the beginning of the 2020 season and had started training under Reynaldo Walcott. Reynaldo had previously worked with Francis at the MVP Track Club and was now the head coach at St. Elizabeth Technical High School. Back in 2016 the two-time Olympic champion had briefly trained under Walcott when she had parted ways with Stephen Francis. Elaine Thompson-Herah continued to train under Francis.
At the 2020 Tokyo Olympics women’s 100m finals, Elaine Thompson-Herah produced an Olympic record breaking performance to secure the gold medal while Shelly-Ann finished second. The prospective gold medal favourite, Fraser-Pryce was visibly upset with the shocking turn of events.
When asked she agreed that it was disappointing as that night things didn’t go according to plan. “But I am still very grateful to make the finals and to be able to stand at the podium at my fourth Olympic Games. Putting it in perspective, I am really excited that female sprinting is going to another level and that is truly remarkable. It speaks to the depth that we have in terms of females,” Eurosport quoted her as saying.
The dramatic 100m final saw the top 3 Jamaicans sizzle through the field. But once the finish line was crossed, icy glares were thought to have been shared. However, Fraser-Pryce and Shericka Jackson did go over to Thompson-Herah to congratulate her. Both the parties reportedly engaged in muted celebrations. The duo of Shelly-Ann and Elaine were once close but it is reported that they have fallen out twice in recent years.