What was most striking, at least to these eyes, was how Sha'kari Richardson showed up at Friday's Doha Diamond League meeting in Qatar.
Her sponsor was a shades-of-green racing kit from Nike, with no embellishments like rhinestones or waist beads. Her hair was braided, with no obvious signs of color outside of the black in her hair. Her makeup was subtle, bright red lips lighting up her smile as she celebrated her victory.
Compared to what we've seen from the beautiful Texan when she's on the track, it's clearly less visible.
Perhaps this was it. We're used to seeing Richardson announce her appearances with colorful hair and a racing fit inspired by the iconic Florence Griffith-Joyner. These days, it seems she's letting that speak for her.
Richardson's victory in Doha came against a stacked field that included 2022 World Championships silver medalist Sherrika Jackson and fourth-place finisher Dina Asher-Smith, as well as US titleholder Melissa Jefferson. Jackson and Asher-Smith were leading at the midway point of the race before Richardson closed up and overtook them. His time of 10.76 s was a meet record and the fastest time in the world this season.
In her opener in Florida last month, she ran a wind-assisted 10.57 seconds in the final, making her the third woman ever to run faster under any conditions, along with Flo-Jo and Jamaica's Elaine Thompson-Herrah. Richardson is only american women to run 10.80 seconds or better since 2017, and she's now done it five times.
Speaking to a reporter soon after moving to Doha, Richardson said She “found my peace back on track and I'm not going to let anything or anyone take it for me anymore.”
In a candid video posted to Instagram last week ahead of a Diamond League meeting, Richardson appeared to hold back his emotions as he indicated what was helping him.
Richardson said, “So I was going through the things I was going through, the pain I was feeling, so all these things were happening to me, and I know now because I have to return to my faith.” Is.” , “I'm feeling much better. That's why you say I'm back – I'm not back, I'm better.”
He hasn't said exactly who or what might have taken his peace in the first place, but we know what Richardson might be talking about. Richardson has experienced her share of obstacles since running into the global track spotlight four years ago, when as a 19-year-old freshman at LSU she won the NCAA women's 100-meter title in a collegiate record of 10.75 seconds.
Most famously, he was stripped of his 2021 US Olympic Trials victory after testing positive for marijuana at a meet. The punishment meant she could not compete at the Tokyo Games that year, where she would have been a medal favourite. Whether or not punishment was warranted was extensively debated online. Those in favor of Richardson pointed to the growing number of US states where marijuana use is legal. But it was then and remains on the World Anti-Doping Agency's list of banned substances.
Richardson has said that she used marijuana to cope with the news that her biological mother had died, which she did not know until a reporter told her at the US trial; Richardson was raised primarily by his grandmother.
Last year, Richardson did not make the final of the US Championships in either the 100m or 200m, meaning she was not on the world championships team against Jamaican stars Jackson, Thompson-Hera and Shelley-Ann Fraser. -Pryce with Worlds was held on American soil for the first time. American women have been shut out of a medal at the last three global championships, with 2017 world gold medalist, the late Tori Bowie, the last to win one.
While track and field has major events throughout the year, global championships make legends, and Richardson hasn't progressed to that stage yet.
He has a chance to change that this summer and next. The Worlds are usually held every other year in odd years, but the COVID-19 pandemic pushed those majors back – the 2020 Olympics were held in 2021, with the 2021 Worlds being the last year. The World Championships will be held in Budapest in August this year, along with the Paris Olympics in 2024.
first term On Richardson's YouTube page, posted earlier this year, is a mishmash of clips. She walks around the new house she just bought and introduces the young family members there, her dog Dallas, and her grandmother. Afterwards, she's answering fans' questions, one of which is what makes her as successful as she is.
“Honestly I don't think I'm as successful as I could have been, should have been and will be,” she said. “But the biggest hurdle is understanding yourself and staying grounded, like being whole in yourself, because in the industry, in the world… there's so much that can affect you, so much that can change you There's a lot that can change you, manipulate you and you have to understand yourself more than anything, because peer pressure is real.”
Richardson, 23, later said she believes people forget how young she is, and that she “responds to hate” because she has long felt she needed to defend herself. And she gets it wrong.
Maybe she'll be back in the bejeweled racing suit and colorful hair, the glamorous fast paced, see the fly tradition credited to Flo-Jo. Maybe she won't.
Regardless, he likes to be in peace.