Sha'Carri Richardson has been repeating a mantra since her return to the racetrack this season: She's not back, she's better.
Richardson, who missed the Tokyo Olympics after testing positive for marijuana a month before the games, delivered the ultimate “I told you so” in Budapest on Monday by claiming her maiden track and field championship title won by running 10.65 seconds to claim victory in the 100 meters. Shericka Jackson of Jamaica was second with 10.72 and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, also of Jamaica, was third with 10.77.
With her victory, 23-year-old Richardson softened and amplified the noise that had surrounded her since breaking into the professional running scene.
She came here finding her peace, she said at a news conference at the Los Angeles Grand Prix in May.
“For the past three years, I've shown you what I can do,” Richardson said. “It was just me who stood in my way. Now I'm with me.”
This has resulted in some of their fastest times.
She opened her outdoor season in April and headlined one wind assisted 10.57. (The time would have been considered her personal best, but the tailwind was above what records allow.) The next month, she won the 100 meters at a Diamond League meeting in Doha, Qatar, defeating Jackson of Jamaica, an Olympic champion foothold on the podium at the World Championships. She defeated Jackson again in July at a Diamond League meeting in Poland.
The national championships in Eugene, Oregon, where she qualified for her first world championships after failing in 2022, were finally upon us.
There, at Hayward Field, Richardson became a sensation in June 2021. A few months earlier she had run 10.72 – then the sixth fastest women's 100m in history – and rose to fame when she won the 100m at the national championships with a dominant performance and a 10.86 graduated
This year's national championships – a qualifier for the World Cup – would be different. She proved that immediately when she took to the track in the first round of competition on July 6th.
Richardson ran a remarkable 10.71, a personal best at the time. Before the finish line, she even seemed to hit the brakes and held her hands down as if she needed gravity to keep her spikes on track. She made it to the semifinals and advanced to the finals with a time of 10.75. The second fastest setting time before the finale was 10.96.
Richardson wore an orange wig in the early rounds, which she also wore for much of her 2021 season. She wore the same wig as she progressed through the qualifying heats and semifinals, and added a green headband as she entered the stadium for the 100m final last month. When her name was announced, she put on her headband to take off the wig. She threw it behind and was happy. The crowd roared. She won with a score of 10.82.
“The last time I was really here in a big stadium I had my orange hair and I wanted to show you guys I'm still that girl but I'm better. I'm still that girl but I'm stronger. I'm still that girl, but I'm smarter,” she said said to Tiara Williams in an interview posted to Instagram after securing her place in Budapest.
Her debut on the World Cup stage on Sunday could not have gone better. Driving to victory, Richardson slowed in the final meters as she mimicked wiping sweat from her brow. She won her run with a time of 10.92 and once again led the field to the semifinals. Only three of the 54 sprinters in the opening run clocked less than 11 seconds.
In their semifinals, Richardson got off to an unpromising start due to a slow reaction time. She managed to secure one of the two automatic qualifiers with a 10.84 after finishing third behind Jackson and Marie-Josée Ta Lou. It quickly became clear that her time would take her to the final.
She said her goal for this year is “to do what I should have been doing for the past two years.”
Stepping into the starting blocks for the finals, the opportunity was right in front of her.
And then, 10.65 seconds later, she had it.