US track star Sha’carri Richardson has Jamaican rival shaking head after gold

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce was left shaking her head after new 100m world champion Sha’carri Richardson took on the press in their post-race media conference. After failing to secure an automatic qualifying place, debutant Richardson started the race in lane nine, but the 23-year-old American stunned a top-quality field to take the gold medal with a championship record time of 10.65 seconds – the joint-fifth fastest time ever for a woman.

The unexpected result was a blow for Jamaica who accounted for the other two medals, with Shericka Jackson taking the silver medal in 10.72 seconds and defending champion Fraser-Pryce collecting the first World Championship bronze of her career in 10.77 seconds.

Victory for Richardson marked the end of battle against adversity for the US star, who first shot to prominence with blistering times in April 2021, before being hit with a one-month doping suspension for using marijuana that saw her miss out on the Olympic Games in Tokyo even though she had won her trails.

She also failed to qualify for last year’s World Championships on home turf in Oregon.

Fast forward 12 months and she now has a gold medal around her neck, proving her doubters wrong. On a number of occasions, Richardson has been proclaiming in the lead-up to the Budapest event that “I’m not back, I’m better”.

That was a mantra she has stuck with following her victory. Richardson told reporters: “In previous interviews, I mentioned that I’m not back, I’m better. I’m going to stay humble. I’m not back, I’m better and I’m going to continue to be better.

“I felt that I executed an amazing race for myself, not even knowing where the other ladies were. I was by myself in my own world which, honestly, it has been like that all my life.

“I’ve always been in my own world, my own element, so lane nine was perfect for me to do what it is that I know to do and focus on myself.”

Richardson was in a bullish mood after her success and after taking a dim view of one reporter’s blunt question, decided to shoot him down.

The reporter asked: “Last year, your 2022 season was pretty rough. You didn’t even make the semi-finals of the US championships. Now you’re the world champion. I’m wondering what differences did you make either on or off the track that allowed you to be so consistent and become world champ this year?”

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Richardson responded: “Well, obviously I didn’t make the team last year, I don’t think you need to say that. But, the fact that I’m sitting here now and I am a world champion – the difference between now and then is I’ve been a whole with myself. I’ve been able to stay in my faith, stay grounded. I keep people around me who genuinely care for me. Blocking out the noise, blocking out the media like yourself and just continuing to go forward. I feel great.”

The gold medalist’s blunt response caused five-times world champion Fraser-Pryce to shake her head with laughter before Richardson turned to runner-up Jackson and laughed into her arm.

Speaking to BBC Sport after the race, Fraser-Pryce said: “I’ve not won many bronze medals but given the circumstances of how I started the season then it’s not bad. Being a champion is not all about winning. I’m grateful to have another medal to add to the tally.”

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