It’s been 25 years since the last U.S. Olympic gold medalist in the women’s 100m. Sha’Carri Richardson looks like the sprinter who can end that drought.
The 21-year-old clocked 10.72 seconds in Miramar, Fla., becoming the sixth-fastest woman in history with the fastest time ever this early in a year.
Only five women have ever run faster — Florence Griffith Joyner, Carmelita Jeter, Marion Jones, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Elaine Thompson-Herah.
“I am who y’all think I am, and I am who I say I am,” Richardson said on the track, moments after her easy win with a 1.6 meter/second tailwind, adding later, “My season is going to be unbelievable. Something that I haven’t been expecting. Something the world hasn’t been expecting. It’s time.”
Richardson joined the Olympic medal mix by winning the 2019 NCAA Championships in 10.75 seconds as an LSU freshman. However, she was eighth at the USATF Outdoor Championships seven weeks later, missing the world championships team.
Now, she’s the fastest active U.S. woman after clocking the fastest time for an American since Jeter’s 10.70 in June 2011. Fraser-Pryce and Thompson-Herah, the Jamaicans who combined to win the last three Olympic titles, ran 10.71 and 10.73, respectively, in 2019.
NBC Sports analyst Ato Boldon, who called Saturday’s meet for USATF.TV, said that Richardson is now “a heavy favorite” for the Olympic title in Tokyo. First, she must finish in the top three at the Olympic Trials in Eugene, Oregon, in June.
The U.S. is in the midst of its longest Olympic gold-medal drought in the women’s 100m. The last champion was Gail Devers in 1996. Marion Jones crossed the finish line first in 2000, then was stripped of her five medals from those Games seven years later for doping.
“You were warned,” Boldon said. “This race will send shockwaves around the world.”
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— USATF (@usatf) April 10, 2021