What you need to know:
- The Jamaican sprint star arrived in Nairobi Tuesday night and has been training at Kasarani ahead of the World Athletics Continental Gold Tour event.
Five-times world 100 metres champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce will not be on the starting blocks for the eagerly anticipated sprint at Saturday's Absa Kip Keino Classic, after all, having been forced out with a sudden injury.
The newly-crowned Laureaus World Sportswoman of the Year left the athlete's hotel in the early hours of Friday in the company of her coach Reynaldo Walcott and physiotherapist Keneil Brown.
Organisers confirmed that the multiple world and Olympic champion had left Nairobi to seek urgent specialised treatment in Milan, Italy.
“I am deeply disappointed to share that I will not be competing at the Kip Keino Classic. I was truly looking forward to to kickoff my season at one the greatest athletic events in East Africa. I love coming to Nairobi and seeing the fans and people; there’s an unspoken energy you can’t find anywhere else," said Fraser-Pryce in a statement.
"Kenya was the beginning of something great last year and I’m really disappointed in not being able to run here. I have always gotten so much love here and I know how much work went in to the preparations."
Thank you all for your continued support. I wish all of those competing the best of luck. See everyone on the track soon.”
Absa Kip Keino Classic Meeting Director Barnaba Korir confirmed that Fraser-Pryce, 36, had alerted the organisers on Thursday night that she picked up a knee injury in training on Thursday and that she tried to push but it got worse.
“She raised the genuine concern and explained that after aggravating the knee injury, she immediately called her doctor in Milan who could only be available for the emergency treatment on Friday, and that’s why we had to get the next available flight to get her to Milan,” Korir explained.
He added that they would have wished for the Jamaican star to stay on as a guest following the injury, but the tight doctor’s schedule meant that she had to leave immediately.
Fraser-Pryce left the athletes’ hotel at 1.30am and flew out of the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport at 4.45am on Friday aboard EgyptAir to Cairo from where she is expected to connect to Milan’s Malpensa Airport.
“This is a huge blow to the meeting, but there’s nothing we could do,” explained Korir.
“Fraser-Pryce explained to us in detail that at 36 years of age, she is not taking any chances with the injury and needed to seek immediate treatment to save her career.”
The multiple Olympic and world champion’s sudden exit will certainly disappoint her legion of Kenyan fans.
After Saturday’s Kip Keino Classic, Fraser-Pryce was scheduled to travel to Hong Kong for another engagement, but has had to cancel all plans now.
For Saturday’s 100 metres scheduled for 4.05pm, Fraser Pryce had been drawn to compete against Hemida Basant (Egypt), Rani Rosius (Belgium), Teahna Daniels (USA), Twanisha “Tee Tee” Terry (USA), Zoe Hobbs (New Zealand) and Kenyans Esther Mbagari and Monica Safania.
It would have been Fraser-Pryce’s first race of the season having last competed in September last year.
“I haven't run since September last year. It is a different year and so, I want to see where I am at. Last year I had run a 200m race in Kingston before coming here, so this is me just coming here to see where I am at, having a good time and executing, and I am sure it will be fantastic,” she had said upon arrival on Tuesday night.
At last year’s Absa Kip Keino Classic, running for the first time on Kenyan soil, Fraser-Pryce clocked 10.67 seconds in dominating the 100 metres race.
“I am feeling good, to be honest. But no two years are the same. Whatever you correct in training, or whatever you are working on, if you come and execute all those things, it will all come together. I hope to build on the moments and experiences that I had last year, into this year,” she added.
Fraser-Pryce was scheduled to plant a tree at Kasarani as part of Athletics Kenya’s sustainability programme before featuring at a press conference at the Safari Park Hotel at 11am.