If current US sprint sensation, Sha Carri Richardson wants to achieve greatness, she should use Elaine Thompson-Herah and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, the two fastest women alive as motivation. This is the advice of former track and field phenomenon, Veronica Campbell-Brown, in an exclusive interview with Caribbean National Weekly.
The now retired 100m and 200m specialist who won three Olympic golds among her 48 medals, was in South Florida recently to collect her award as the 2021 Lifetime Achiever from the People Profile Organization.
[Sha Carri] “is a talented athlete, she is young, energetic and exciting,” said Veronica about the young Richardson. “But I think if she can just refocus, she will do very well in the sport. I know that Elaine and Shelly-Ann will always give her a good fight and if she uses them as motivation, they can push her to be extraordinary.”
Campbell-Brown who helped to put Jamaica at the top of global sprinting won her first Olympic medal, a silver, at age 18 at the 2000 games. Four years later in Athens at age 22, she became the first Caribbean athlete to win a sprint medal when she outclassed favorite Allyson Felix to take the 200m. Days later, she then ran an amazing anchor leg in the 4x100m to give Jamaica its first gold in the event.
Veronica believes that Sha Carri has the ability to do well, referencing the American’s personal best of 10.72 in Miramar, Florida earlier this year. “She did that within two years of being a pro. That shows that she has the ability, and I am excited to see what she will do in the future. How she will continue to compete under pressure with some of the best in the world.”
Jamaica’s Olympics Performance
Regarding Jamaica’s Olympics performance in Tokyo, the Olympic champion was very impressed, especially with the ladies. “It was incredible to watch the Olympics. So may great performances. It was exciting to see how well the Jamaican women competed. The men, ahhhh [pause] they did OK. I’m sure they will be motivated by the women’s performance and will be stronger for next year and years to come.” She believes that there are a lot of young athletes in the works and looks forward to Jamaica’s performance in the future.
Breaking the 100m Record
Another subject that the five-time Jamaican Sports Woman of the year is excited about is the 100m record. She believes that both Shelly-Ann and Elaine are motivated to go to training and get the record next season. “Elaine went so close the other day. That is the closest that anybody has been after so many years. I do believe that it is in reach now. Elaine shows that it is in reach and then Shelly did that 10.60 which is very close as well. Both of those times are the 2nd and 3rd fastest in history so it is an indication that they are getting closer and I’m sure that both Elaine and Shelly now have their sights set on the record.”
But even with the excitement, support and passion for a Jamaican to hold the record, Veronica believes that whoever breaks it would be doing something good for the sport. “I know some people are saying that the record should stay in the US but for me it does not matter where the record is. It is a good thing for our sport when records are broken. It shows that we are evolving. It shows that the sport is getting better, that people are improving, because each generation needs to surpass the one before. So, if the record moves from US to Jamaica, it is ok because no one country owns the record. It is going to be the woman who puts in the work, who is in the right moment at the right time to get the environment, that is conducive to breaking the record.”
As for her retirement, Veronica has no intention of slowing down. Even though she is not on the track anymore, she still works out. “For the fun of it, the health of it and the benefit of it,” she said. And there is doubt that she is either, as her defined arms provide telling evidence.
She is also an entrepreneur and manages her business that creates active wear products for active women. “Our objective is to help women live an active, healthy life. They don’t have to be at an elite level of fitness. It’s all about making sure that you keep moving, keep working out. Workout is not only good for giving you a good physique, but it is also good to help you release mental stress and you know in this world we have a lot of stress. But when you can get up and go for a walk or jog it helps you to release some of that stress. So, we provide quality clothing for women to go on a workout and feel good about themselves.”
But of all the things that keeps Veronica busy in her “retirement” life, the most rewarding one is her 2 ½ year old daughter Avianna. When asked about her daughter’s future as an athlete, a big Jamaican smile lighted up her face. “I can see that she is very athletic already. She loves to run, and she loves to jump. But I’m not going to really push her into any one thing. I am just going to see what she likes and will support her in whatever she chooses to do in life. When she goes to the track, she is working out with the girls doing whatever they are doing. Right now, she is an imitator. Anything that they are doing she is doing it and so (because) she is around track and field that may influence her to go down that path. I really don’t know yet. If she likes tennis, I’ll support that. If she likes track, I will support that, if it is swimming then I’ll support her. So, whatever she wants. I’m not going to put any pressure on her to follow in my footsteps or her father’s.”
Advice for young athletes
No interview would be complete unless Veronica gives some worthy advice to the young and upcoming athletes. She epitomizes what it means to face challenges, struggles and still achieve success in the process. This makes her a perfect example for others. She wants the young bloods and future of her beloved sport to first, “recognize that you are capable of doing well and then you have to work hard.”
She strongly advised if an athlete wants to be successful, they must “Stay focus.” “You have to be able lose, bounce back from defeat, and be confident in yourself. It is not easy, and the road is not smooth. You are gonna have bumps that you have to go over and the athletes who go on to do great things realize that defeat is not the end. And when you are defeated, you need to look into why and pull from that. Get back to the drawing board and train hard. It all begins with confidence in your ability and it doesn’t matter how many times you get knocked down you can keep going after your dreams,” she recommends.