Sha’Carri Richardson has had a track season to remember.
Earlier this year, she won the U.S. title in the 100-meter dash, then declared to the world: “I’m not back, I’m better.” And better she has been.
She ran two personal bests this season and won the 100 at the 2023 World Track and Field championships in Budapest last month. She also led the U.S. to gold in the 4×100 relay at the same event while finishing with a bronze medal in the 200.
Through it all Richardson, who was absent from the Tokyo Olympics due to a positive drug test, has remained joyous. That has been evident, even as she finished fourth in the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene over the weekend. She said Saturday that she’s “fallen back in love with my sport” over the last year while sporting her natural hair, something she said she had to do after winning the world title in the 100.
“My coach, I told him that if I went 10.6 I would wear my natural hair,” she told NBC. “When I became the world champion and set a championship record I ran a 10.65, so I had to pull out the natural.”
"I had to pull out the natural."Sha'Carri Richardson on wearing her natural hair in her final race of the track & field season. pic.twitter.com/sAJK36Wtvy— NBC Olympics & Paralympics (@NBCOlympics) September 16, 2023
"I had to pull out the natural."Sha'Carri Richardson on wearing her natural hair in her final race of the track & field season. pic.twitter.com/sAJK36Wtvy
She also elaborated on how she’s fallen back in love with the track.
“I feel like for a while, I saw this sport more as a job than the love I knew I had for it,” she said. “I’m just whole all over again.”
And despite finishing fourth on Saturday, behind champion Shericka Jackson of Jamaica, Richardson said that she felt “amazing” about her performance.
“All of the women who placed above me are literally legends, and I give them the utmost respect,” she said. “There is no (bad) race anytime we line up, we have to bring our A games every time. I love racing against those women, they bring out the best in me. And I’m looking forward to competing with these ladies at their fullest health and their fullest happiness next year for the Olympics.”
“I’m having so much more fun, and I want people to understand it is not just because of winning,” she continued. “I’m having fun because I’m better within my spirit, within my mind, within my community that I created for myself. That’s the happiness that you guys see. The wins are just the bonus, but it shows when you’re whole within yourself what you will attract.”
The next year will be a big one, with the Paris Olympics just 10 months away. But Richardson is approaching it “as determined as I can be” while also maintaining her happiness.
“Knowing that everyone is going to bring their A game, it just makes me want to bring my best as well,” she said. “The goal for the 200 next year, there are so many great ladies in the 200, the second fastest woman in the world ever (Jackson) runs it now, so I’ve definitely gotta bring my A game lining up against her and all the ladies.
“I’m not one of those who just wins the 100. I’m a 100 and 200 runner and I want you guys to see that, and I want to bring that out. I can’t wait for next year. … The best is yet to come. I’m only 23, so just wait and see.”