EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — Moments after she was introduced on the starting line, Sha’Carri Richardson reached to her head, grabbed her trademark orange wig and flung it onto the ground behind her.
Then, she took the next step on the long road to proving she’s the real deal.
America’s most colourful sprint star won the U.S. 100-metre title in 10.82 seconds Friday night, marking a high point that comes two years after her national title was stripped because of a doping violation.
After her victory, she conceded in a TV interview that she wasn’t ready for the moment at the 2021 Olympic Trials, where, shortly after her victory, she tested positive for using marijuana.
“Now, I stand here with you again and I’m ready, mentally, physically and emotionally,” the 23-year-old said. “I’m here to say, “I’m not back, I’m better..'”
She’ll have a chance to put a stamp on that next month at world championships, which will mark her first major international meet. Earning America’s second and third spots in the event were Brittany Brown (10.90) and Tamari Davis (10.99).
Moments after Richardson’s win, Cravont Charleston pulled an upset in the men’s 100, finishing in 9.95 to edge 2019 world champion Christian Coleman by .01. It was the 25-year-old Charleston’s first final in a major meet and he made the best of it.
“Just keep running,” Charleston said. “That’s what I tried to do.”
Noah Lyles finished third, only four days after getting over a bout of COVID. He’ll go for a double at worlds, his spot in his signature event, the 200, already assured because he is the defending world champion.
“I had the dream I could make that double,” Lyles said.
He is one of 10 American athletes, including Fred Kerley (100), Athing Mu (800) and Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone (400 hurdles) who are defending world champions and have automatic bids into the meet in Budapest, Hungary, next month. On Friday, McLaughlin-Levrone ran 49.60 in the 400 flat to win the semifinal in that event by 1.4 seconds.
Among the summer’s biggest questions is what McLaughlin-Levrone will do come Budapest.
But this week has mostly been about Richardson, who has not looked in this good of form since the 2021 Olympic Trials, when she routed the field, only to have the result vacated when her drug test came back positive. She admitted she used marijuana to relieve stress after learning her mother had died. That episode triggered a debate about whether marijuana should really be on the banned list.
Officials elected to leave it on the list because experts determined it was “against the spirit of sport.”
Richardson ran the best time of the year, 10.71, on Thursday in opening heats, but she’ll leave Eugene with only the worlds’ second-fastest 100 time of the week. A few hours before Richardson’s final, Shericka Jackson won Jamaica’s championships with a time of 10.65 seconds, setting up Jackson and Richardson as the fastest contenders at worlds.
Other winners Friday included Anna Hall in the heptathlon, Harrison Williams in the decathlon, Vashti Cunningham in the women’s high jump and Donald Scott in the men’s triple jump.