Fraser-Pryce to run once-hated 200 at NYC meet

Updated: June 10, 2011, 5:39 PM ET
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce used to think the best way to run a 200 was to pull up at the halfway point.

The reigning Olympic and world 100-meter champion doesn't mince any words: She hated the longer race.

But last year, Fraser-Pryce accepted the hard truth about the dreaded 200. Embracing the event would make her better in her specialty.

So the Jamaican star happily heads into a loaded 200 field Saturday at the Adidas Grand Prix, New York City's Diamond League meet.

"I hated it because I wasn't strong enough to compete in it," Fraser-Pryce said Friday, "and psychologically I had a block in my mind from when I was in high school."

Fraser-Pryce ran a personal best in the 400 -- a race she still despises -- this season, proof her strength and endurance are improving.

"When I'd run the first 100, that was it for me," she recalled with a laugh of her old mindset toward the 200. "I could literally stop at the first 100."

Fraser-Pryce, who returned this season after serving a six-month ban for using oxycodone to treat a toothache, will run the 100 and 200 at the Jamaican championships later this summer. If she wins the 200, she's not sure yet if she'll drop the event at August's world championships, as she has in the past.

The 24-year-old Fraser-Pryce will get the ultimate test Saturday in her New York debut: The field includes American Allyson Felix, a three-time 200 world champion.

"She's been running great 200s for a long time," Fraser-Pryce said. "To actually be in the field with her, I'm looking forward to that."

Another 100-meter star, American Carmelita Jeter, is also in the race.

"I think that sprinters, when they run the 200, it's kind of a natural thing," Felix said. "Some people's specialty is the beginning of the race, some at the end. But when you put it together, it just raises the level of competition. We all run better."

Felix also excels at the 400, so her strength is undoubtedly the end of the race. While she says the 100 specialists' strong starts won't help them as much in the 200, Felix knows she can't fall too far behind. She's gaining confidence in her improved starts and is curious to see how she stacks up against Fraser-Pryce's and Jeter's ability to burst out of the blocks.

"When they jump on top of it, it takes so much energy to try to get back into the race, you just really put yourself at a disadvantage," Felix said.

The stands at Icahn Stadium on Randall's Island, east of Manhattan, will be full with the rabid track fans from New York's sizable Jamaican population. Fraser-Pryce has aunts and cousins in the area who have never seen her run in person.

Fraser-Pryce caught the meet on TV last year.

"Even though I was at home," she said, "I could feel the energy."

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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