In the last two years, when a suspension for a failed drug test cost her the place she earned at the Tokyo 2021 Olympics and then she failed to make it past the first round at last year’s US track and field championships it Sha’Carri Richardson against himself.
“It was just me,” said the sprinter during a visit to Los Angeles in May, “that stood in my way.”
This week at Hayward Field, neither Richardson nor any of her 100-meter competitors failed to snuff out their 10.82-second path to a US championship and a spot on her first World Championship team — the 23-year-old dominating each of her three heats transition from one two-year period of unpredictability to two days of total control.
Brittany Brown (10.90) and Tamari Davis (10.99) will join Richardson on the US team. No American woman has won the 100-meter world championships since the late Tori Bowie in 2017, while Jamaican Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce has clinched both titles since then.
Richardson ripped off the orange wig to reveal the pigtails, as her name was called, ahead of Friday’s final, prompting startled cheers and laughter around the stadium without showing her serious expression as she then stormed into the blocks. Falling behind early, she fought her way to the championship and sprinted another 100 meters while raising her fist in the air.
A former NCAA champion, Richardson’s talent has never been questioned. Her consistency was. Still, she’s completed seven 100s this year, and they’ve all been under 11 seconds. That string of races, and the way she controlled them all at Eugene, begs the question of who will win at August’s World Championships in Hungary when Richardson faces the best in the world.
Richardson did not speak to reporters after her win. She had not competed since the Los Angeles Grand Prix in late May, when she convincingly won her preliminary round and then withdrew from the final. Instead of surviving her first race Thursday at the US Championships, she sent a message — her time of 10.71 marked a personal best and the fastest by an American since Carmelita Jeter’s 10.64 in 2011.
“Focused Sha’Carri is good for Sha’Carri, good for the sport, good for the US team and good for the fans,” Olympic sprinter Michael Johnson wrote on Twitter late Thursday.
Richardson didn’t let up in her semifinals on Friday night, winning by 10.75. On her way to recovering for the finals, she tiptoed to Mia Brahe-Pedersen and smiled as she walked by, leaving the teen who had just finished her junior year at Lake Oswego, Ore., beaming. An hour later, they met again in the championship finals, with Brahe-Pedersen, the first high school track and field athlete to sign a name, image and likeness deal with Nike, on 8/11. took seventh place.
Like Richardson, who will be trying to qualify for the 200m starting Saturday, Noah Lyles came to Eugene hoping to run the 100m and 200m at the World Championships in August. That chance still exists after he finished third in the 100m in 10.0 seconds and made what he called the toughest US team of his career. Recovering from COVID just five days ago, he had “a really bad workout on Tuesday, a normal workout on Wednesday, and suddenly we’re racing on Thursday and we’re like, ‘Damn, I’ll do that.'” performing a miracle. ‘”
As Lyles and Christian Coleman, two of America’s most decorated sprinters of the last decade, looked at the scoreboard to see if they had qualified for the World Championships, an unexpected name popped up in first place that belonged to neither: Cravont Charleston.
Charleston ran 9.95, beating Coleman (9.96) and Lyles. Charleston’s most prestigious win before Friday was at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, he said.
But his training with longtime pros Allen Johnson, Torri Edwards-Johnson and Terrence Trammell had given him confidence he could make the team. When they spoke after his title, “relief prevailed,” Charleston said.
“Finally,” Johnson said to Charleston. “Now you come to yourself.”
The question of who is America’s fastest man is technically still up for debate as Fred Kerley, last year’s world 100-meter champion, is not competing in the 100-meter dash this week because he has a bye to August’s world convention.