Synopsis | The Athletes & Their Mothers
At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Jamaica overwhelmed audiences across the globe with athletic performances that earned them six gold medals in track and field. It was the first time ever that a Jamaican woman had won gold in the 100-meter race. She was only 21-years old. Back on the island, thousands of Jamaicans danced and cheered on the streets in front of gigantic-screens where the games were televised. Communities held peace rallies on behalf of their country’s victory. This Caribbean Island of 2.8 million people trumped the world at the Olympic games, and the global community wants to know what makes Jamaicans so fast.
What most people don’t know is that Jamaica has been competing and winning gold in the Olympics since 1948 when it was still a British colony. Decades before that, Jamaica established a national children’s track and field championship, which to this day brings together schools from all over the island to compete in front of crowds of 30,000.
Shelly-Ann Fraser, the women’s 100-meter Olympic gold medalist, grew up in Jamaica’s vigorous athletic environment. For Fraser, winning an Olympic gold medal–in her own words-means life and power. Her commitment to track and field saved her from some of the tougher aspects of her life; she grew up in a notoriously dangerous neighborhood in Kingston where warring factions would sometimes become so violent that armed guards would shut the entire community down for days. Many young girls in her neighborhood got pregnant and fell into a life of poverty.