Shelly, Jackson want their national awards to inspire young girls Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

Two of Jamaica’s top sportswomen – Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Shericka Jackson, were on Monday conferred with national honours during the annual National Awards Ceremony held on the lawns of King’s House in St Andrew.

The annual event is both the highlight and culmination of Heritage Week which culminates each year on National Heroes Day, a public holiday. It recognises Jamaica’s best in their various fields of endeavour.

Fraser-Pryce, the sprint legend was conferred with the Order of Jamaica (OJ), the country’s fifth highest honour, to sustained applause. She was awarded for outstanding performance in the field of athletics at the international level. She told journalists afterward that she hopes that her award will inspire Jamaican girls, particularly those in the inner-city community of Waterhouse, St Andrew where she was born and raised. She said they too should believe that they can achieve greatness.

“I think for many young girls in my community, especially, I am excited for this moment for them because I am giving them the hope to dream and realise that they too can achieve great things,” Fraser-Pryce said.

Fraser-Pryce said she was honoured to be recognised by her country and will continue to “put Jamaica at the forefront.”

Fraser-Pryce, who won an unprecedented fifth World Championships 100m title in Eugene, Oregon in July, and who won back-to-back Olympic 100m titles in 2008 and 2012, was among 10 people conferred with the OJ this year. That number also included the Minister of Sport, Olivia Grange.

Fraser-Pryce was easily the most recognisable of the award recipients on Monday.

At 35-years-old and the mother of a son, Zyon, the enduring sprinter burst onto the international scene at the 2008 Beijing Olympics where she won gold in the 100m in a Jamaican podium sweep. She followed up that win with victory in London in 2012 and has won five World Championships at 100m since while adding a 200m title in 2013.

Fraser-Pryce also featured in Jamaican podium sweeps in the 100m at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and at the July World Championships.

For her part, Jackson, 28-years-old, was all smiles as she was presented with the Order of Distinction in the rank of Commander. She was awarded for her exceptional achievements in the sport of track and field athletics at the national, World Championships, and Olympic levels.

After receiving her award Jackson encouraged young girls not to give up on pursuing their dreams.

“I haven’t actually thought about an award like this, but I’m here and I’ve worked hard and I’m grateful. To young girls out there, never give up, no matter what the obstacles are, you keep going because hard work definitely pays off,” Jackson said.

About being recognised by the Government, Jackson said, “I’m definitely feeling good to know that everybody is watching and we (athletes) are working and our hard work is being recognised, so I’m definitely grateful.”

Jackson is the fastest woman alive over 200m and the second fastest ever over the distance. The MVP-conditioned athlete ran a jaw-dropping 21.45 seconds to win the 200m at the Eugene World Championships in July in a national record. The previous Jamaican record of 21.53 seconds was held by Elaine Thompson-Herah.

Jackson is also one of few women who have excelled on the global stage at the 100, 200, and 400m, winning global medals at all three distances.

Several other persons were conferred with national honours for their contribution to sport. They include Dr Warren Blake, former president of the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association. He was conferred with the Order of Distinction for his contribution to medicine and as a team doctor in national sports.

Also awarded was sports agent Claude Bryan, who received the Order of Distinction for contribution to the sport of track and field; Michael Clarke, a veteran coach, who was conferred with the Order of Distinction for contribution to sports in the area of track and field; and veteran tennis player Douglas Russell who was awarded the Order of Distinction.