Shelly-Ann says she is in Kenya to launch her rocket to Budapest

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce at the JKIA upon arrival in Kenya on May 10, 2023, ahead of Saturday's Kip Keino Classic meet. [Stafford Ondego, Standard]

Double Olympic champion Shelly-Ann-Fraser-Pryce is in the country and ready to defend her women’s 100m title at the fourth edition of the Absa Kip Keino Classic Continental Gold Tour to be held at Kasarani Stadium in Nairobi on Saturday.

The five times world champion will head to the Kasarani showpiece buoyed with the Laureus Sportswoman of The Year Award she won alongside Argentine football legend Lionel Messi in Paris on Monday night.

Fraser-Pryce who is nicknamed the 'Pocket Rocket' indicated that she is also in the country to launch her quest for a sixth world title she is aiming at the World Championships in Budapest, Hungary in August.

“Kenya is the space station and I’m here to launch my rocket to Budapest,” the Jamaican sprint icon said upon her arrival at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi on Tuesday night.

“I have not run since September last year but I’m looking forward to competing well at Kasarani. It’s a different year so I want to see where I am at for now.

“Last year, I ran 200m in Kingston before I came here, this time I didn’t run anything. So there is a need for me to come in, have a good time, execute and see where I am. I’m sure it will be fantastic,” she said.

Fraser-Pryce, however, said her body was in great shape for her title defence at Kasarani which is expected to be a cutthroat battle owing to the calibre of opponents she is poised to face.

Sha'Carri Richardson waves after winning the women's 100-meter run at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials June 19, 2021, in Eugene, Ore. [AP photo]

There is the likelihood that she will wrestle American sprint sensation Sha’Carri Richardson who is fresh from posting a world lead time in the Doha Diamond League last week.

“I’m feeling good to be on this body, definitely I feel like a 21-year-old, which is good but you know, not two years are ever the same.

“So you continue to work and I chose that. You correct things in training and come and execute those things. Last year I built on that; on the experiences and the moments that I had into this year,” she said.

The Jamaican has urged her legion of fans in Kenya to turn up in large numbers at Kasarani to watch her do her thing. She has promised the spectators quite a show to remember.

“I’m excited to see you guys, last year I had a fantastic time, the crowd was good, the energy was great, the atmosphere was phenomenal. I’m looking forward to just having a great time in Nairobi,” said.

While praising Richardson’s impressive world lead in Doha, Fraser- Pryce stated: “I think that’s good, that’s what keeps sports going, keeps fans entertained.

“Last year, I opened (the season) with quite a fast time, so it’s not really unique for us to open with fast time. I think the race is the game. You just know that whenever you compete you give your best. It’s something that grows women’s sports, especially in track.”

Polish hammer thrower Anita Włodarczyk at the JKIA, May 10, 2023. [Stafford Ondego, Standard]

Fraser- Pryce already knows that her quest for a sixth world title will not be a walk in the park due to the age factor as she will be up against young talents in Budapest.

She reiterated that she will not underrate any opponent at the Worlds, pledging to be ready physically and mentally in order to excel at the global spectacle.

“I have been doing it (World Championships) for quite some time now, so I have a lot of experience in the preparation. Hopefully, I’ll be able to join those experiences and have a fantastic time in Budapest,” she said.

She hints that the secret to her success and longevity in the game lies within her passion, hunger and a firm belief that she can still run faster.

“Running fast is not just about something that you talk about, it’s something that you work for, it’s execution and showing off in the right frame of mind, it’s having the right atmosphere and just executing that, it’s definitely a goal of mine and so I’m working hard towards that,” she said.

Kitale's Shirhasy triumphs in NCBA series
Kabras aim to retain title as Kenya Cup kicks off
By Ben Ahenda 20 hrs ago
Africa Zone Three champion Bakari battles Oduor in the featherweight finals
Junior Stars lift Kakamega mood in five-goal thriller win