Track and field superstar sprinters Sha’ Carri Richardson and Noah Lyles, women’s and men’s 100m world champions were both honored at the USATF awards, Olympics.com reported.
At the “Night of Legends” held on Saturday (Dec. 3) in Orlando, Fla., Richardson took home the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Athlete of the Year for women after winning gold in the 100m, anchoring the women’s 4x100m relay team to gold, and winning the bronze in the 200m at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest in August.
In her acceptance speech, Richardson expressed her gratitude for the award and reflected on her journey as one of the races of U.S. track.
“With the God that I serve, everything happens when it’s supposed to happen. So when I stand here today as the world champion, that’s because now was the time for that to happen,” Richardson said. “Now is the most impactful it would be, the most powerful it would be, and the most sincere it would be.”
“I understand the influence that I have, I understand the responsibility that I have to USATF and as a top female USA athlete, and to my country, and to my Black family, to my beautiful women, to everybody that has been misunderstood for trying to be their best selves and not be put into a category because they do track and field and have been put in a bubble,” Richardson continued.
For the third time in his career, Lyles was awarded the Jesse Owens Male Athlete of the Year. This season, he won gold in the 100m, the 200m, and the 4x100m relay.
“I feel like I’ve shown that as long as you yourself, you work hard, you can display whatever it is that is you, and still get the job done,” Lyles said.
The 26-year-old phenom also mentioned the controversy he caused by saying that professional athletes in the U.S. are not “world champions” in his victory speech.
“I told my agent when we first met that I wanted to transcend the sport. Whether that’s doing walk-ins, whether that’s telling the NBA that they’re not world champions…. They didn’t like that! Whether that’s having uncomfortable conversations with NFL players, or other track and field athletes. Whether that’s giving flowers to people that deserve it,” Lyles continued.
Other honorees included Laulauga Tausaga-Collins, a discus thrower who became the first USA female athlete to win a world title in the event in Budapest, and Dennis Mitchell was named Coach of the Year.
Both Richardson and Lyles are considered favorites to bring home gold medals in several events at the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.
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