Sha’Carri Richardson, an American sprinter whose hopes of competing in the Tokyo Olympics were shattered due to a positive marijuana test, won the 100-meter global title on Monday night, firmly establishing herself as a medal contender for the Paris 2024 Olympics.
In a lightning-quick 10.65 seconds at the World Athletics Championships at the National Athletics Centre, Richardson, 23, ate up the track.
Shericka Jackson and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, two great Jamaican sprinters who came in second and third, were completely surprised by Richardson’s victory.
“I’m honored, I’m blessed, I had great competition, [which] pulled the best out of me, and I’m just honored to leave with a gold medal,” she told reporters after the race.
Richardson committed to continuing to develop.
“I’m going to stay humble,” she said. “I’m not back. I’m better, and I’ll continue to be better.”
It was the first women’s 100-meter world championship by won by an American since 2017, when Tori Bowie successfully accomplished the feat..
The fact that Richardson qualified for the 100-meter final after placing third in her semifinal heat and missing out on one of the two automatic slots made it an impressive feat.
Richardson took her time getting out of the starting blocks and lost some time as she strayed slightly to the right. However, she came in strong, and her 10.84 in the semifinals—the best of anyone who wasn’t in the top two—got her into the final.
“She was more than capable of running 10.65; we knew that,” said her agent, Renaldo Nehemiah, himself a former world class sprinter and hurdler. “We just knew that running it on the biggest stage in the world is a lot harder than just saying it.”
Richardson’s performance on Monday night was a significant improvement from the previous year’s U.S. Track and Field Championships, when he was unable to go past the 100-meter heats.
“I’m just so proud of her, because a year ago we were light-years away from a full package of being able to compete at this level, and she’s put in the work,” Nehemiah said.
When Richardson won the 100-meter race in the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials in Eugene, Oregon, in 2021, it seemed as though she had already punched her ticket to the Covid-delayed Tokyo Games.
But because she tested positive for THC, the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, she was suspended and missed Tokyo.
Richardson said she used the medication to help her deal with the trauma of her mother’s unexpected death while taking responsibility for her conduct.
After winning the U.S. 100-meter gold last month, she was already seen as a frontrunner to earn a spot in the Paris Olympics.
Richardson expressed her desire for her experiences on the track to inspire viewers to appreciate athletes for more than just their performance.
“It felt amazing just knowing that not only [do] people see me as an athlete but as a person,” she said. “I want people to see that it goes beyond [being an] athlete, You bring who you are onto the track. You bring your athlete into your life.”