Sha’Carri Richardson Wins 100-Meter Gold at the World Championships
Sha'Carri Richardson secured her name as the fastest women in the world with her stellar performance in the 100 meter final in Budapest
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Sha’Carri Richardson stunned the world on Monday evening. Stunned everyone in the track and field world. Stunned everybody in the women’s 100-meter finals at the World Athletics Championships. Stunned everyone, except herself. Because winning a world championship gold medal is exactly what she said she was going to do.
The ever-confident 23-year-old Nike-sponsored sprinter from Dallas won the world championship title in the 100-meter dash on Monday evening in Budapest, Hungary, outrunning one of the fastest and deepest fields ever assembled in a meet-record and career-best time of 10.65 seconds.
It’s the first global medal of Richardson’s career, and she beat two legendary Jamaican superstars to do it—edging both Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, 36, a five-time world champion and the 2008 and 2012 Olympic champion, and Shericka Jackson, 29, who entered the meet as world leader and the favorite to win gold.
Jackson wound up a close second in 10.72 seconds to earn the silver medal, while Fraser-Pryce took bronze in 10.77 seconds.
It’s an enormous win for Richardson, as she finally reached the pinnacle of the sprinting world after seemingly being so close for the past three years. Not only did Richardson win the $70,000 first prize, but she also earned bragging rights as the world’s fastest woman that she’ll take into 2024 on the road to the Paris Olympics.
“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 in the mixed zone after the race.
After barely qualifying for the finals out of her semi-final heat on Monday afternoon, Richardson got off to a good start—even though Jackson and Fraser-Pryce got out of the starting blocks faster—and won in come-from-behind fashion. Richardson’s reaction time (0.163 seconds) in the final was much better than her time out of the blocks in her semi-final race (0.222 seconds), but it was still the third-slowest reaction time of the nine women in the final.
Richardson had a slow start in her semi-final heat and, although she closed hard, she only placed third in 10.84 behind Jackson (10.79) and Marie-Josee Ta Lou of the Ivory Coast (10.79) and was in jeopardy of not making it to the final as only the top two finishers in each heat advanced automatically. As she nervously waited around in the call room after her race, she watched the last semi-final unfold and saw that she was, indeed, one of three runners who earned wild-card entries into the nine-runner final based on time.
In the final, Richardson was positioned in lane 9 on the outside of the track closest to the grandstands, while Jackson and Fraser-Pryce were side-by-side in lanes 4 and 5, respectively. At about the 80-meter mark of the race, it looked as if Jackson and Fraser-Pryce would finish 1-2 and continue Jamaica’s dominance in the event. But Richardson kept running hard through the finish line and edged Jackson for the victory.
“It can’t be a rivalry if only one country is winning, and the Jamaicans have been dominating this event for about six years,” said NBC Sports broadcaster Ato Boldon, an Olympic silver and bronze medalist in the men’s 100 meters, moments after Richardson’s win. “Guess what? The pendulum just swung back to the United States.”
Richardson’s rise to the top of the world has taken a little longer than she had initially hoped, but Monday evening she arrived just in time. As a 19-year-old collegiate runner for LSU, Richardson won the NCAA championship in a meet-record 10.75 seconds, which also broke the 42-year-old world junior record.
After the Covid-19 pandemic shut down track and field, Richardson came back strong in 2021 and won the 100 in 10.86 seconds at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene, Oregon. But days after the meet concluded, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) announced that Richardson was suspended for 30 days for testing positive for THC, the chemical in cannabis (which is on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s list of banned substances) and missed the Tokyo Olympics as a result. (She admitted later using the drug to cope with the pressure of qualifying for the Olympics while also mourning the recent death of her biological mother.).
The suspension forced her to miss the Tokyo Olympics and refocus on other meets. Although she showed moments of brilliance in 2022, but failed to make the finals of the 100-meter or 200-meter at the U.S. championships which means she missed the chance to run in last year’s World Athletics Championships in Eugene.
She started off 2023 with a bang, with a world-leading 10.76 100-meter time on May 5 in Doha (she also ran an eye-popping 10.57 with an over-the-limit tailwind on April 9 in Florida) and posted the second-fastest time in the 200-meter (22.07) on May 13 at a meet in Kenya.
Then in July, she won her first U.S. champion title by winning the 100 at the USATF Championships in Eugnee in 10.82 seconds (after famously ditching her orange wig at the starting line) and placing second in the 200 in 21.94 to qualify for this year’s world championships in Budapest in both events.
Richardson said she’ll continue to keep working hard and improving.
“I’m going to stay humble,” she said. “I’m not back, I’m better and I’ll continue to be better.”
Richardson joins a long list of American women to win 100-meter world championship titles: Gail Devers (1993), Gwen Torrence (1995), Marion Jones (1997, 1999), Torri Edwards (2003), Lauryn Williams (2005), Carmelita Jeter (2011) and Tori Bowie (2017).
“Not many bronze medals, but given the circumstances of how I started the season then not bad,” Fraser-Pryce told BBC after the race. “Being a champion is not all about winning. I’m grateful to have another medal to add to the tally. I won’t be running the 200m, I’ll rest for the 4x100m relay. Being able to make sure that when you show up you have to give 100 percent because everyone wants it. You line up and it doesn’t matter your age, it’s about who wants it more.”