Why Did Shelly Leave?

Ricardo Makyn
Stephen Francis issuing instructions to his charges at a training session in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, during the 2016 Olympic Games.

Since her departure from high school, 29-year-old Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce has spent all of her senior career in track and field under the guidance of MVP head coach Stephen Francis.

Francis, arguably the top sprint coach in the world, has guided Fraser-Pryce to seven individual world titles. These include three IAAF World Championships 100m, an IAAF World Championships 200m, two Olympic 100m, and one IAAF World 60m Indoor title.

With that record, most people expected Fraser-Pryce to remain with her successful coach until she decided to hang up her spikes.

However, during the Rio Olympic Games, the bombshell dropped. Fraser-Pryce would part company with her long-time coach. At first, many believed it to be a wild rumour before Coach Francis confirmed that the news was factual.

What are the real reasons for Fraser-Pryce’s departure?

On Wednesday evening, The Gleaner caught up with Francis at his hotel in Lausanne, Switzerland, a day before the Athletissima Diamond League meet, where four of his charges, including Thompson, were down to compete.

Francis was quizzed on the likely reasons for his star sprinter’s departure from his camp.

As usual, he was frank with his responses.

“Shelly informed me that she was unhappy with the job I had done with her this year,” Francis said while accepting the blame. He added that she said she was going to make a change.

He continued: “She had some good years, but looking at the future, I think she has every right to assess what is good for her. Staying with me as her coach was not best for her and so she told me that she was going to leave.”

After guiding her to several titles at the highest level, Francis was asked if he thought this was a big slap in the face for him.

“No, I do not think that way … the past is not relevant to a lot of people when they are making decisions about the future, and the most important thing for her and any athlete is ‘What will the future hold for me?

“If she is going to continue in the sport, she cannot dwell in the past, regardless of how well she did in the past, and if she is unhappy and does not think she can achieve what she did in the past, she has to make that decision to move on,” said Francis.

Francis was then asked if he thought the rise of his new star, Elaine Thompson, who won the sprint double in Rio, was a factor in Fraser- Pryce’s decision to exit the MVP Track Club.

“I think we should take her word as it is. I mean, it is impossible for anybody to know what is in her mind. I have the tendency to take people’s words as they know what is going on inside of them, so even though it is tempting to make that kind of connection, I think it is perfectly reasonable that she doesn’t think what is being done in her training is good for her as she thinks that what has been done the past year was enough to have held her back, and she wants to move on,” he said.

Asked if he thought that the fact that she had not performed at her best in the past year despite great success is over the years justified her leaving or if was there something else.

“No, I do not think so. I think she is convinced that given the environment that is there, the setback could have been handled better and if changes which she wanted to be made were made, she would have had a better chance of defending her 100 metres title, and it is for her to make that decision. And it is she who has to bear the consequences, and I am hoping that her new training situation will justify what she said.”

In the past, athletes who have departed from Francis to go elsewhere have not had the same success they had under his guidance, so Francis was asked if he thought Fraser-Pryce was special and could have success wherever she went.

“I have found over the years that athletes who I have coached quickly developed a sense that the importance of their coach is reduced in their mind no matter how lowly a beginning they had. Eventually, in their mind, they believe they are extremely talented and my role is incidental to their success, and it is human.

“In Shelly’s case, I think she has been through a lot of success. As a result, her expectation is very high and it is difficult to accept results which are not the best as she is used to it, and I think she has to be in a situation where there is a continued search for improvement. In this case, she thinks improvement is at an end and she has to take chances to see if she can get better,” concluded Francis.


  1. Shelly need fi chill becoz before you know it ppl gonna start sense a lil badmind in her because Elain is on top now she wanna leave,it wouldnt surprise me that if the offer is right she’d go run for another country ijs

    1. God see and know me can’t relate to the “badmine” label when onu drop it more time.

      No place in this article such a thought was subliminal. The woman feel she need more and Francis can only give so much. I strongly doubt Fraser-Pryce carries “badmine” for Thompson…if anything she is hard on herself.

      I don’t like competitive sports because each individual think they should always be first. Track N field was getting boring with bolt winning all the time.

  2. francis guided her to 7 world titles and she git up and gone outa frustration age is a factor for real then came the toe, how long she did expect to keep going when so much more young athlete a come out of the sprint factory come on shelly where is your some people cussing francis. a him mek her toe sick

  3. Very diplomatic answers, no need in bashing or blaming she made a decision that she thought was best for her and he respects that. In the end he intimates that his contribution to her and other athletes successes is often ignored and he’s justified in his feelings wish them both continued success still

  4. Agree with last Anonymous and blogger who said he response was classy. I love Pocket Rocket and wish her the best but mi still a wave di flag high fi Elaine. There is room on the track for both.

  5. Mi nuh see the problem. SFP never perform top notch this past year and she feels she has got to go elsewhere to receive better training…. Once Francis gets his props for what he has done for and with her I don’t see why she cannot move on if she feels it best suits her needs.
    Like everyone else, I’m wondering who she goin train with now because as noted by everyone else, athletes who seek other trainers never surpass their prior performances.
    I wish her all the best. Mi nah dash her to the way side true Elaine tek her title in Rio this year. I have enough Jamaican pride to cheer them both on.
    She needs to remember tho, track and field is wear and tear to the body, esp since she had a recent injury. Look at Sanya Richards – Ross! There will always be the possibility of some spring chicken that will be younger and faster.
    That’s why I’m glad Bolt was successful in his triple triple and will bow out gracefully.

    1. I think so too! Coach Francis “protected” Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce for a year or more, by not letting Elaine Thompson run the 100m in races with SFP. During this period, Elaine Thompson was the faster runner in the 100M/200M.

      Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce can seek out another coach, but Francis is the best in Jamaica and took coaching to the next level in Jamaica. He was the first coach that attempted to keep our local athletes locally, instead of shipping them off to overseas Universities for training. He also, at great personal sacrifice, put a lot of his own resources into training our athletes (before his success start bearing fruits). Yes, he can be a bit abrasive and arrogant, but he breathe and eats track and field.

      I wish SFP all the success in the world, but sometime these athletes need to remember where they are coming from and how they got to where they are. IMHO, her departure has nothing to do with coaching, since at her stage, coaching has very little to do with success…..I sure her has had the benefit of all the coaching task available. Maybe she should start transitioning to coaching herself, as her career is now on the decline.

  6. Suh what if she hab a likkle bit a jealousy? It is human, and it is something each and everyone of us feel a tinch of at one point or another in our lives – suh mek she live man- mek di girl gwahn, di man seh him ok wid it suh mek it be, him gi har him blessings and respect har decisions…suh wi haffi just try and do the same. Gwahn tru yahn SFP..fix u toe and come back betterer next toime…hmm,mmm

  7. Suh what if she hab a likkle bit a jealousy? It is human, and it is something each and everyone of us feel a tinch of at one point or another in our lives – suh mek she live man- mek di girl gwahn, di man seh him ok wid it suh mek it be, him gi har him “blessings” and respect har decisions, or so it seems but a suh it guh..suh wi haffi just try and do the same. Gwahn tru yahn SFP..fix u toe and come back betterer next toime…hmm,mmm

  8. There’s a whole lot more to this n soon enough it will come out. I’m not at liberty to say but I will tell u..”something inna something”

    1. Isn’t it funny francis nuh have no time for his athletes when they are approaching 30 and not winning he did it to asafa when he was leaving and now shelly turn it seems.

      1. @Yardi with Francis there’s always more to the story.

        @Anonymous Francis has done it to all of them as they start ageing…even if they can’t make it to Olympics, that’s not the only race that’s being run. They are many other circuits these athletes can go on and make money!

  9. If di javelin thrower from Kenya can train himself through You Tube to a silver medal at the Olympics then personal coaching may not be as important as it appears.

    SFP has achieved a lot in her time, it is only she who can say if there is more in her to give. If she feels she is not done yet, then she has all the right to move on. If I were her I would go away to some place far, and get my mind right first, before I decide on what path to take.

  10. We all should refrain turning this situation into media drama and try to look at the success that their partnership had.Thank you Mrs Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce for what you have done and will continue to do and that is being a wonderful role model for our girls.Thank you coach Francis for your dedication to the sport and our country.

    1. You have a valid point. One does wonder why there is more talk about her than Elaine. Elaine should remain strong and just do her thing and make her mark and money.

  11. My question is: If Shelly-Ann (not Elaine) did win de gold medal, would she had parted ways wid de Coach? Why do I get de feeling say dat sump’n nuh right, or sump’n is missing (wey de public nuh know bout) from da story ya? Quack, quack, quack, says de bloodcleet duck!!!!!

  12. Something inna something. Is the second time now Francis said something about Shelly made certain requests for the 100M and he didn’t grant her it. I feel that’s why she leaving. And what could that request have been..daa daa dee. Anyhow, mi happy fi Elaine and hope she’s humble, unlike Shelly when she’s off the track. All the interviews that me watched her give and “God” is the first word she mention most times, I just scoff when I hear her. Becuz off the track she’s very hype and have no manners.

  13. Blogger up top is correct, coach Francis held Elaine out of the 100m at the world championships so shelly cud win and get one last shine, had Elaine run the 100m she wuda beat Shelly and all this Elaine talk wuda been started from that time..Shelly is not as fast as Elaine goin 100m or 200m and the coach knows that so Shelly gonna have to either play second fiddle or go else where.

    1. What a sad state of affairs, that should never have happened. You don’t hold back talent to appease someone else’s ego. This is likely why they made her anchor the relay which I found so damn annoying.

  14. It is very typical for us as a people to wave the “bad mind and jealousy flag” which truth be told is an indictment on us and not on the person/s we are pointing fingers at. There are those people in life who are perfectionist and who really care about themselves and their achievements and successes in a non-competitive manner. The fact that Shelly competes in a competitive sport makes it easy to assume there is jealousy on her part which may very well be true but it could simply be that she feels her time has expired with that coach. I personally have taught students who keep failing my course and I have always made it clear to them that if they have failed the course twice whilst attending my classes then they should attend other classes. It is not that I am a bad teacher, in fact I am a very good teacher but it s not a one size fit all. I will have students who will ace my course and others who won’t. For those who don’t ace my course I may just not be the right fit for them. There are students who will do well in one of my courses and do miserably in another. There are students who will do well in both. At the end of the day the onus is on us to make choices we perceive as the best fit for us. The choices we make may be or they may not be the best ones in the end but it is part of maturity to do what one is convicted is in his or her best interest and also be mature enough to later live with the consequences knowing that when the decision was made, one felt it was the right and just decision.

    Even in our own lives sometimes we do things for years and it works perfectly and then one day you try the same strategy/technique or whatever the case may be and it constantly fails to the point where you lose hope and become frustrated. In that scenario you are forced to make a choice; do I continue trying to make what used to work continue to work or do I change gears. Part of growth is knowing when to let go and it has nothing to do with someone else but simply that the thing no longer works for you. I could be wrong but it is my humble opinion that Shelly’s line of good fortune with this coach has changed which has nothing to do with her as a runner or him as a coach, the chemistry has simply expired. In such an instant it is probably best for her to try something else and be smart enough to know that it may or may not work but in the end at least she tried.

    A good explanation is provided in the book “Who moved my Cheese”. It is imperative that in anything you do you are aware of when your “cheese” is getting moldy and it is simply time to move on. Don’t be like the characters Hem and Haw but be like Sniff and Scurry. (The name of the characters are indeed puns-play on words).

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