- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 18, 2009

BERLIN | Shelly-Ann Fraser closed her eyes as she crossed the finish line, almost afraid to open them and glance at the Olympic Stadium scoreboard.

As if she had anything to worry about.

Fraser won with ease in a time of 10.73 seconds, edging Jamaican teammate Kerron Stewart in the final of the 100 meters Monday at the world championships. American Carmelita Jeter held off Veronica Campbell-Brown for third, preventing a Jamaican sweep.

So what does this performance in the sprints say?

“That we’re dominating,” Stewart said.

The Caribbean island with a population of 2.8 million people is crushing the big, bad Americans, who go nearly 307 million strong. The Jamaicans’ command began in Beijing, where the country won five of the six sprint events. Now it’s continuing at the world championships.

First, Usain Bolt ran right past top rival Tyson Gay and the rest of the field in a world-record time of 9.58 seconds Sunday. Then Fraser followed that with a convincing win of her own.

For a rivalry, this sure has become one-sided.

“As a country, we have worked really hard,” said Fraser, who won Olympic gold in Beijing. “We’re young, and we have so much fire burning for our country. Our country is so small. Every day they talk about the crime and corruption and all that. We want something different for them to mention.”

Like sprinting. There, the country is in a league of its own.

The Americans’ chances of evening the score anytime soon don’t look good. Not after Gay pulled out of the 200-meter competition with a sore groin. Given the way Bolt is running, it would’ve been a tall order even if Gay were healthy.

Stewart drew inspiration from watching Bolt’s electric run the night before when he wowed the world with his world record. Soon after she saw the result, she sent him a congratulatory text.

“[He] is not human at all,” Fraser said, smiling. “I was so excited.”

Once she crossed the line, Fraser’s eyes flew open and locked onto the scoreboard. Seeing her name pop up was all affirmation she needed to set off a giddy celebration.

“When I opened [my eyes], I was like, ‘Please don’t tell me this isn’t real,’ ” she said.

It was.

Fraser, complete with a mouth full of braces and a bubbly spirit, hopped up and down on the track before draping a Jamaican flag around her shoulders and doing a victory lap - similar to the jaunt Bolt took the night before.

These celebrations are becoming quite commonplace for Jamaican sprinters.

At the beginning of the championships, it looked as if Fraser might not even get the chance to run. Because she did not attend a mandatory training camp with some of her teammates, the Jamaican federation wanted to punish the absentees by keeping them out of the starting blocks.

But IAAF president Lamine Diack intervened and helped convince the federation to reverse its stance. Ever worried?

“It’s not my job to think about that stuff,” she said.

Her real scare came in April. Fraser complained of soreness in her stomach that only got worse. She was taken to the hospital and had her appendix removed. That caused her to miss nearly three weeks of training.

“It’s a really tough year,” Fraser said. “But once a champion, always be a champion. I would never stay down.”

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