Sha’Carri Richardson, the American sprinter whose career was derailed shortly before the Tokyo Olympics after testing positive for marijuana use two years ago, won the women’s 100-meter world championship, earning the unofficial title of “Fastest Woman in the World.”
The 23-year-old Richardson won the event at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest on August 21, marking a personal victory and significant comeback after being suspended shortly before the rescheduled Tokyo Olympic Games in 2021.
Headed into the Games, Richardson was expected to medal, but tested positive for THC, the principal psychoactive part of marijuana, which she admitted to smoking in Oregon — where the drug is legalized — to help her cope with her mother’s death.
Despite her past performances, Richardson delivered disappointing performances throughout 2022 and was not considered a favorite to win at this year’s world championship. But despite being placed in the outside lane — considered the least advantageous position for runners hoping to medal — for the finals, Richardson delivered a knockout performance.
With a time of 10.65 seconds, she bested two of her chief rivals: Jamaican Olympic sprinters Shericka Jackson, who was the world’s top-ranked women’s 100-meter runner headed into the world championships, and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, a 10-time world champion.
With her victory, Richardson also became the first American woman to win the 100-meter dash since 2017, when Tori Bowie emerged victorious with a winning time of 10.85 seconds.
In a press conference, Richardson, who hopes to medal at the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, told reporters, “In previous interviews, I mentioned that I’m not back, I’m better. I’m going to stay humble, I’m not back, I’m better and I’m going to continue to be better.”
She added, “Never give up, never allow the media or outsiders to define who you are. Always fight. Never leave sight of yourself. You’ll have good days and bad days but you always have tomorrow.”
Richardson has identified herself as bisexual on social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram. She has often mentioned her girlfriend as a source of support throughout the years.
When she initially qualified for the Olympic team in 2021, Richardson thanked her former girlfriend for advising her on the color of her trademark orange wig.
“My girlfriend actually picked my color,” Richardson said at the time. “She said it, like, spoke to her, the fact that it was just so loud and vibrant, and that’s who I am.”
At this year’s U.S. championships, Richardson shed her wig just before the race, revealing long braids underneath. She later told the host of “Real Talk with Tee” that the gesture was meant to symbolize shedding her past and leaving behind past obstacles.
“I want to show you guys that I am still that girl, but I am better,” she said. “I am still that girl, but I am stronger. I am still that girl, but I am wiser. So I had to shed old and present the new.”
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