Sha’Carri Richardson crowns revival by winning the 100m at the world championships. Track and the pursuit of fame can be brutal sports. Over the past two years, no one sensed this more than American sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson.
On a sweltering Monday evening, half-world from where her problems began, the 23-year-old won a gold medal in the 100-meter race at the world championships.
Her victory in 10.65 seconds over Jamaica’s Shericka Jackson and five-time world champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce concluded a two-year comeback, validated the mantra she’s recited all year, and reiterated after her latest victory: “I’m not back. I’ve improved.”
After the Olympic trials in Eugene, Oregon, two summers ago, Richardson’s path to the Tokyo Games was obstructed by a positive marijuana test. Her name became a Rorschach test in a wide-ranging debate about race, fairness, the frequently incomprehensible anti-doping rulebook, and the sometimes razor-thin line between right and wrong.
Richardson stated that she took in everything, surrounded herself with supporters, and attempted to drown out the rest.
She responded, “Never give up!” when asked what message this victory conveyed. Never allow the media, outsiders, or anything other than yourself and your faith to define who you are. I would say, “Fight always. “No matter what, you must fight.”
She fought for this victory in a field with four of the eight quickest sprinters in history.
In a race in which only the top two finishers were guaranteed places in the final, she competed in the so-called “Semifinal of Death” against Jackson and Marie-Josée Ta Lou, ranked fifth and eighth.
In this semifinal, Richardson had a terrible start and had to recover from seventh place to finish third in 10.84 seconds. Her time was the quickest among all non-qualifiers. Therefore, she qualified for the final.
Seventy minutes later, she was lining up on the edge of the track in Lane 9 for the gold medal sprint, a position as difficult as it gets because there is no way to gauge the performance of the best contenders or anyone else.
There was no difference. Even though she had the third-slowest start in the field, no one gained a significant advantage. In the end, she and Jackson were competing. Jackson crossed the finish line and, unable to determine what Richardson was doing so far to the outside, looked at the scoreboard as if she had won.
However, Richardson bested her by 0.07 seconds, Fraser-Pryce by 0.12 seconds, and Ta Lou by 0.16 seconds. The 10.65 was a world championship record, surpassing Florence Griffith Joyner’s 35-year-old world record of 10.49, and tied him for the best performance in the world this year with Jackson.
Even though Richardson was 2-0 against Jackson in this year’s head-to-head matchups, she lost the race partly because she was a world’s novice competing against a field that had accumulated 38 Olympic and world championship medals.
The newly crowned champion appeared astonished after crossing the finish line. She exhaled a kiss to the sky, gazed at the scoreboard, and walked toward the stands in a daze to accept the American flag and congratulations from Fraser-Pryce, Dina Asher-Smith of the United Kingdom, and others.
Richardson stated, “Knowing that all the heavy hitters would bring their ‘A’ game helped me bring out my ‘A’ game as well.” “Living legends surround me. It feels extraordinary.”
Richardson appeared poised to become America’s next sprinting superstar two years ago when, with her orange hair streaming behind her, she easily won the trials. But that victory was soon erased after she tested positive for marijuana — a doping violation she readily admitted, citing the recent death of her mother as the reason.
A lively debate ensued, with much of it taking place on social media, over whether marijuana, which is not a performance enhancer, belonged on the banned list (it does) and whether regulators were overzealous in their pursuit of a young, outspoken, African-American woman (they said everyone is subject to the same rules).
Richardson spiraled downward for some time, both off and on course. In 2021, she placed ninth in her much-anticipated return from suspension at the Prefontaine Classic. She did not reach the world championship team last year.
Her agent, former hurdler Renaldo Nehemiah, stated, “A year ago, she was in no man’s land making the team.” “And then, to return and rediscover her happy place, which is on track, and to not compete with any negative influences in the world. I told her, “You will never win that battle, even on your best day.”
Richardson bared her soul in a live chat on social media late last summer, urging others to discover their authentic selves as she had.
After sending that message, she began repairing the train track.
She did not speak about technique, pace, or tactics when asked what she improved after her most significant victory, either on or off the track.
“You lend your identity to the track. She said, “You incorporate your athlete into your life.” “Knowing that people know me as a person and an athlete.
Sincerely, there is no separation.
“Therefore, I’m pleased to be able to reveal who I truly am. Not my ache. Not my sorrow. I’m glad I can stay here and enjoy my home, knowing everything has paid off.”