Jamaica: Girls on Track

Jamaica: Girls on Track

Against all odds, this small island nation is producing an astonishing number of Olympic medalists. What's their secret? (PBS Frontline)

When the tiny island nation of Jamaica won 11 track and field medals at the 2008 summer Olympics, the sports world was astounded. Six of the medals were gold, including the 100-meter sprint for both men and women.

Gold medalist Shelly-Ann Fraser, 21, credits Jamaica’s high school athletic programs with her success. Track and field training is part of the national culture and begins in primary school.

This short documentary by Frontline is part of the Rough Cut series and includes interviews with Fraser and the girls she inspires – like Janieve Russell, a 14-year old high school track star from a rural community. The film follows these two young women as they train and compete to put their country on the map.

In a nation where one third of all women become pregnant by the time they are 19, becoming a female Olympian requires more than hard work and training. Fraser, who grew up in a poor and violent Kingston neighborhood, sees sports as a way to improve her life. She hopes to inspire younger athletes and bring a brighter future to her island homeland.

This film won Audience Award and Silver Jury Prize at the 2009 San Francisco International Festival of Short Films. This is an abridged version of the 21-minute documentary “Fast as She Can.”

CHANNEL: Frontline

Length: 12:05

Molly Snyder-Fink & Kiran Goldman