A multitude of Namibians, mostly Windhoek residents, and others from surrounding towns, yesterday thronged Hosea Kutako International Airport to welcome Jamaican double-Olympic 100m champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce to the Land of the Brave.
Fraser–Pryce, also a three-time 100m world champion, is in Namibia on a weeklong countrywide tour to inspire upcoming athletes, while also emphasising the importance of education for athletes.
The tour starts at Gobabis in the Omaheke Region, where she will visit schools and various athletics clubs in the area, before heading to the Kunene where she will also interact with learners, athletes and the community.
The tour concludes with a visit to Swakopmund and Walvis Bay.
Delivering her brief but well-calculated speech to the hundreds gathered at the airport, Fraser-Pryce touched on her humble beginning as an athlete, particularly the struggles and sacrifices she had to make to be where she is today.
“No matter where you come from, we all share the same struggles as human beings and my beginning is no different. I grew up in poverty and my mother had to sacrifice a lot for us to eat and get an education – just imagine in a house where we were more than six children! But hard work and dedication is what it took for me to be here today,” said Fraser-Pryce.
“ It’s not an easy task to become an Olympic gold medalist or world champion, but with hard work, dedication and self belief, anyone of you here, particularly the young kids, can become world champions for Namibia. As aspiring athletes, you should never give up on your dreams, just believe in yourself and everything will be possible.”
On a light note, the charismatic diminutive Jamaican speedster known as the ‘Pocket Rocket’ by her ardent fans worldwide, said she would love to visit various areas of the country where she can get to see lions and other wild animals, which are rare in Jamaica.
“And oh! To those of you who might not know, I can also speak a bit of Afrikaans. I learned a few words from Namibian student athletes that are based in Jamaica. They are very friendly and always telling me stories about Namibia and how beautiful the country is. So one day I decided, let me visit Namibia since I have never been to this part of the world and here I am today.”
Fraser-Pryce is ranked 4th on the list of the fastest 100m female sprinters of all time, with a personal best of 10.70 seconds, set in Kingston, Jamaica in 2012.