Like a bolt of lightning, Sha’Carri Richardson sprinted across the finish line first on Saturday (June 18) at the U.S. Olympic trials opening a path to track and field superstardom.
The 21-year-old Texan put on an impressive display of speed, as she blew away her competitors in the 100-meter dash final in 10.86 seconds. But it’s more than her blazing speed that set social media on fire. She also brought an unabashed glam to the track that has people talking.
Here are five things to know about the Olympic gold medal hopeful.
Richardson, who grew up in South Dallas, first set her sights on becoming a track star when her grandmother showed her the track and field medal that Richardson’s mom won, according to The Washington Post.
She was a top athlete at Dallas Carter High School before running track at Louisiana State University. In 2019, she broke the collegiate record in the women’s 100 meters at the NCAA Championships as an LSU freshman. After Saturday’s impressive results, she’s well positioned to win gold at the Tokyo Olympics.
After winning the race on Saturday, Richardson headed straight to the stands to hug her grandmother, Betty Harp, whom she called her “superwoman,” according to NBC Sports.
“To be able to have her here, at the biggest meet of my life and being able to run up the steps and knowing that I’m an Olympian now… Honestly, that probably felt better than winning the race itself,” said Richardson, who was raised by her grandmother and aunt.
Richardson also revealed Saturday that her biological mother died a week earlier. Their relationship was “confusing,” but Richardson said will always have a deep respect for her mom.
Richardson’s signature style—colorful hair, long fingernails and eyelash extensions—raised more than a few eyebrows and won her lots of new fans.
Olympic gold medal sprinter Florence “Flo-Jo” Griffith Joyner, remembered for her fashion statements on the track, inspired Richardson unapologetically to express her own person style, according to The Washington Post.
“She was the greatest of them all. People talked about her,” Richardson commented in 2019 about Flo Jo, according to the Post. “I put God before everything. Jesus was perfect, and people talked about him. People are going to say what they’re going to say. So do what you’re going to do because people are going to talk.”
Part of the Olympic gold medal hopeful’s bold style is the brilliant colors of her hair. Deciding which daring color to choose comes right before a race, according to The Washington Post.
At a previous track meet, she chose a brilliant blue. And for the Olympic trials, it was a blazing orange. She revealed to USA Today that her girlfriend recommended orange the day before the big race.
“She said it like spoke to her, the fact that it was just so loud and vibrant, and that’s who I am,” Richardson said.
The 21-year-old sprinter, the youngest of the US team’s 100-meter qualifiers, views her age as a weapon. Her main opponent at the Tokyo games is expected to be Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, 34, of Jamaica.
She uses her age as “an intimidating factor,” according to USA Today.
“If you’ve been doing this and I step on the scene, I’m letting you know I respect you for you putting on for our sport. But at the end [of the] day, when we get on this line, what you’ve been doing, you have to do that against me,” she said.
Photo: Patrick Smith/Getty Images