An emotional Sha’Carri Richardson surged to 100m victory at the US Olympic track and field trials in Oregon on Saturday, punching her ticket to Tokyo in 10.86 seconds.
The 21-year-old Texan streaked over the line at Hayward Field and moments later revealed that her win came after a week in which she learned of the death of her biological mother.
A jubilant Richardson leapt into the stands to share an embrace with her grandmother and other family members following her victory.
“This year has been crazy for me,” Richardson said afterwards.
“I’m still here, last week finding out my biological mother passed away.
“And still choosing to pursue my dreams, still coming out here, still making the family that I do have on this earth proud.”
Richardson said sharing her win with her grandmother, family and coaches had carried extra meaning.
“Without them, there would be no me. And without my grandmother there would be no Sha’Carri Richardson.
“My family is everything to the day I’m done,” Richardson said, adding that hugging her grandmother had “felt better than winning the race.”
Earlier, Richardson had started slowly and trailed Javianne Oliver at the halfway stage.
But she hit the front with 30 metres to go, and pulled clear to score a decisive victory.
Oliver finished second in 10.99sec while Teahna Daniels was third in 11.03.
Richardson is the second fastest woman in the world over 100m this year, running a 10.72sec in April. Only Jamaica’s Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce has run quicker, the two-time Olympic champion running 10.63sec in Kingston earlier this month.
Richardson however showed on Saturday that she is ready to give Fraser-Pryce a serious challenge at next month’s Olympics.
Her winning time in Saturday’s final came despite running into negative headwind. In the semi-finals earlier Saturday she had run a blistering but wind-assisted 10.64.
Richardson’s victory capped a second day of action that mostly followed the form book.
In the men’s 100m opening heats, Trayvon Bromell, the fastest man in the world this year, comfortably advanced to the semi-finals with a wind-assisted 9.84sec
With world champion Christian Coleman suspended due to a drugs ban, Bromell is widely regarded as the favourite for gold at the Tokyo Olympics after battling back from a series of career-threatening injuries.
“I really believe. Doctors told me I would never run again,” Bromell said. “All I had was my faith.” Veteran Justin Gatlin, the 2004 Olympic 100m gold medallist who is bidding to make his fourth Olympics at the age of 39, finished second behind Bromell in 9.93sec. “Some days at practice, I feel 39 but I live for this moment,” said Gatlin.
World 200m champion Noah Lyles, who is targeting a 100m-200m double in Tokyo, looked unconvincing in his heat, starting slowly before finishing in third place.
In the women’s 400m, Allyson Felix qualified safely for Sunday’s final after finishing second in her semi-final in a time of 51.01sec.
Felix, the only woman track athlete to win six Olympic gold medals, is aiming to reach her fifth consecutive Olympics before heading into retirement.
“I feel like I’m in a good spot for tomorrow,” Felix said. “I tried to run smart,” the 35-year-old said.
In the women’s 100m hurdles, world record holder Keni Harrison cruised into Sunday’s semi-finals with the fastest time of the heats, clocking 12.49sec.
Harrison, the reigning world champion, is looking to atone for her nightmare at the 2016 trials where she entered the competition as favourite but failed to finish in the top three and missed out on a place in Rio.
Other hurdles qualifiers included Brianna McNeal, the reigning Olympic champion who is competing in Eugene despite facing a potentially career-ending suspension for an anti-doping rules violation.
McNeal, who was banned for a year in 2016 after three whereabouts violations, faces a five-year ban for a charge of tampering within the anti-doping process.
However she has been allowed to compete at the trials ahead of an appeal of her case at the Court of Arbitration for Sport, due to be heard before the Tokyo Olympics.
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