In signature look, Sha’Carri Richardson sprints to Olympic debut with 100m win

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With her long orange hair and long, multi-colored nails, Sha’Carri Richardson sprinted straight to her Olympic debut in Tokyo.

The 21-year-old won the women’s 100m at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials with a time of 10.86 seconds, bursting into the lead in the final few meters.

She immediately ran up into the stands at the new Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon, for a long embrace with her grandmother, Betty Harp.

“Emotionally — unbelievable,” Richardson told NBC reporter Lewis Johnson, “the fact that I am an Olympian no matter what, a dream since I was young. Being happy is an understatement. Happy, nervous, all of those emotions.”

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Though she was racing with her usual confidence, the 5-foot-1 sprinter was carrying a lot of emotion with her on the track after losing her biological mother last week.

Richardson told reporters her family dynamic is a “very, very, very confusing and sensitive topic,” but that she loves her biological mother and will pay her respect every time she steps onto the track.

Given what they have been through recently — and how Richardson’s grandmother has helped shape her — she said that the time spent holding her grandmother after the race was more exciting than winning the race itself.

“My grandmother is my heart, my grandmother is my superwoman, so to be able to have her here at the biggest meet of my life, and being able to cross the finish line and run up the steps knowing I’m an Olympian now, it just felt amazing,” Richardson said.

Richardson, whose name first became known when she won the 2019 NCAA title as a freshman in a college-record 10.75 seconds, has been a favorite for both the U.S. Olympic team and an Olympic medal since running 10.72 seconds in April — the sixth-fastest legal time in history.

She ran a wind-aided 10.64 seconds in Saturday’s semifinal.

Jamaica’s Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, the 2008 and 2012 Olympic gold medalist in this race, ran the year’s fastest time, 10.63 seconds, earlier this month.

Both women are chasing Florence Griffith Joyner‘s world record of 10.49 that has stood for 33 years.

“I think her energy is incredible, and obviously she has so much talent,” nine-time Olympic medalist Allyson Felix said of Richardson. “It’s really fun for all of us to be able to watch her and just see that spirit of hers.”

Felix, who will race in Sunday’s 400m final, and Richardson could meet on the track later in the meet. Both are entered in the 200m, which starts Thursday, June 24.

Whether Richardson’s hair will remain orange — which her girlfriend chose so she would stand out and be “loud and encouraging and dangerous” — for that race remains unclear. She has raced in red, orange, blonde and blue to date. One thing’s for sure, though: She already has big plans for Tokyo.

“I’ve got some tricks up my sleeve for my hair, so stay tuned,” she quipped.

RELATED: Allyson Felix pens powerful letter to her daughter

Richardson will be joined in the Olympic women’s 100m by Javianne Oliver and Teahna Daniels, also first-time Olympians, who ran 10.99 and 11.03 in the final, respectively.

2016 Olympian Jenna Prandini met the Olympic standard, coming in fourth at 11.11 seconds, and will be named to the team for the 4x100m relay.

Twenty minutes prior, Valarie Allman won the women’s discus to secure a spot on her first Olympic team as well.

The former competitive dancer, whose throwing form exudes some of the grace she learned in that sport, was in a league of her own with a second-round throw of 69.92 meters.

Allman, 26, had set a meet record and season’s best of 70.01 meters, not far off her American record of 70.15.

The 2014 junior world silver medalist — who was seventh at the 2019 Worlds — will be joined in Tokyo by third-place finisher Rachel Dincoff, who was in fourth until her penultimate-round throw of 60.21 meters.

Micaela Hazlewood was second but does not currently have the Olympic standard of 63.5 meters. She must reach that by June 29, or potentially be invited via world ranking, to be on the Olympic team.

2016 Olympians Kelsey Card and Whitney Ashley were fourth and fifth, followed immediately by 2012 Olympian Gia Lewis-Smallwood.

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Germany opens bobsled worlds with double gold; Kaillie Humphries gets silver

Laura Nolte Bobsled
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Germans Laura Nolte and Johannes Lochner dethroned the reigning Olympic and world champions to open the world bobsled championships in St. Moritz, Switzerland, this weekend.

Nolte, the Olympic two-woman champion driver, won the four-run monobob by four tenths of a second over American Kaillie Humphries, who won the first world title in the event in 2021 and the first Olympic title in the event in 2022. Another German, Lisa Buckwitz, took bronze.

In the two-man, Lochner became the first driver to beat countryman Francesco Friedrich in an Olympic or world championships event since 2016, ending Friedrich’s record 12-event streak at global championships between two-man and four-man.

Friedrich, defeated by 49 hundredths, saw his streak of seven consecutive world two-man titles also snapped.

Lochner, 32, won his first outright global title after seven Olympic or world silvers, plus a shared four-man gold with Friedrich in 2017.

Swiss Michael Vogt drove to bronze, one hundredth behind Friedrich. Geoff Gadbois and Martin Christofferson filled the top American sled in 18th.

Americans Steven Holcomb and Steven Langton were the last non-Germans to win a world two-man title in 2012.

Bobsled worlds finish next weekend with the two-woman and four-man events.

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Novak Djokovic wins 10th Australian Open, ties Rafael Nadal for most men’s Slam titles

Novak Djokovic Australian Open
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MELBOURNE, Australia — Novak Djokovic climbed into the Rod Laver Arena stands to celebrate his 10th Australian Open championship and record-tying 22nd Grand Slam title Sunday and, after jumping and pumping his fists with his team, he collapsed onto his back, crying.

When he returned to the playing surface, Djokovic sat on his sideline bench, buried his face in a white towel and sobbed some more.

This trip to Australia was far more successful than that of a year ago, when he was deported from the country because he was not vaccinated against COVID-19. And Djokovic accomplished all he could have possibly wanted in his return: He resumed his winning ways at Melbourne Park and made it back to the top of tennis, declaring: “This probably is the, I would say, biggest victory of my life.”

Only briefly challenged in the final, Djokovic was simply better at the most crucial moments and beat Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-3, 7-6 (4), 7-6 (5). As a bonus, Djokovic will vault from No. 5 to No. 1 in the ATP rankings, a spot he already has held for more weeks than any other man.

“I want to say this has been one of the most challenging tournaments I’ve ever played in my life, considering the circumstances. Not playing last year; coming back this year,” Djokovic said, wearing a zip-up white jacket with a “22” on his chest. “And I want to thank all the people that made me feel welcome, made me feel comfortable, to be in Melbourne, to be in Australia.”

The 35-year-old from Serbia stretched his unbeaten streak in Melbourne to 28 matches, the longest run there in the Open era, which dates to 1968. He adds trophy No. 10 to the seven from Wimbledon, three from the U.S. Open — where he also was absent last year because of no coronavirus shots — and two from the French Open, to match rival Rafael Nadal for the most by a man.

Only two women — Margaret Court, with 24, and Serena Williams, with 23 — are ahead of him.

This was also the 93rd ATP tour-level title for Djokovic, breaking a tie with Nadal for the fourth-most.

“I would like to thank you for pushing our sport so far,” Tsitsipas told Djokovic.

Djokovic was participating in his 33rd major final, Tsitsipas in his second — and the 24-year-old from Greece also lost the other, at the 2021 French Open, to Djokovic.

On a cool evening under a cloud-filled sky, and with a soundtrack of chants from supporters of both men prompting repeated pleas for quiet from the chair umpire, Djokovic was superior throughout, especially so in the two tiebreakers.

He took a 4-1 lead in the first, then reeled off the last three points. He led 5-0 in the closing tiebreaker and, when it finished, he pointed to his temple before screaming, a prelude to all of the tears.

“Very emotional for us. Very emotional for him,” said Djokovic’s coach, Goran Ivanisevic. “It’s a great achievement. It was a really tough three weeks for him. He managed to overcome everything.”

Perhaps surprisingly, Tsitsipas was willing to engage in the kind of leg-wearying, lung-searing back-and-forths upon which Djokovic has built his superlative career. How did that work out? Of points lasting at least five strokes, Djokovic won 43, Tsitsipas 30.

Then again, on those rare occasions that Tsitsipas did charge the net, Djokovic often conjured up a passing shot that was too tough to handle.

It’s not as though Tsitsipas played all that poorly, other than a rash of early miscues that seemed to be more a product of tension than anything.

It’s that Djokovic was too unyielding. Too accurate with his strokes, making merely 22 unforced errors, 20 fewer than his foe. Too speedy and flexible chasing shots (other than on one second-set point, when, running to his left, Djokovic took a tumble).

“I did everything possible,” said Tsitsipas, who also would have moved to No. 1 with a victory, replacing Carlos Alcaraz, who sat out the Australian Open with a leg injury.

Perhaps. Yet Djokovic pushes and pushes and pushes some more, until it’s the opponent who is something less than perfect on one swing, either missing or providing an opening to pounce.

That’s what happened when Tsitsipas held his first break point — which was also a set point — while ahead 5-4 in the second and Djokovic serving at 30-40. Might this be a fulcrum? Might Djokovic relent? Might Tsitsipas surge?

Uh, no.

A 15-stroke point concluded with Djokovic smacking a cross-court forehand winner that felt like a statement. Two misses by Tsitsipas followed: A backhand long, a forehand wide. Those felt like capitulation. Even when Tsitsipas actually did break in the third, Djokovic broke right back.

There has been more than forehands and backhands on Djokovic’s mind over the past two weeks.

There was the not-so-small matter of last year’s legal saga — he has alternately acknowledged the whole thing served as a form of motivation but also said the other day, “I’m over it” — and curiosity about the sort of reception he would get when allowed to enter Australia because pandemic restrictions were eased.

He heard a ton of loud support, but also dealt with some persistent heckling while competing, including applause after faults Sunday.

There was the sore left hamstring that has been heavily bandaged for every match — until the final, that is, when only a single piece of beige athletic tape was visible.

And then there was the complicated matter of his father, Srdjan, being filmed with a group of people with Russian flags — one with an image of Vladimir Putin — after Djokovic’s quarterfinal. The tournament banned spectators from carrying flags of Russia or Belarus, saying they would cause disruption because of the ongoing invasion of Ukraine. Djokovic and his father said it was a misunderstanding; Srdjan thought he was with Serbian fans.

Still, Srdjan Djokovic did not attend his son’s semifinal or the final.

No matter any of it, Djokovic excelled as he so often has.

“He is the greatest,” Tsitsipas said, “that has ever held a tennis racket.”

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