'Ready to make that USA Team': Sha'Carri Richardson cruises to 100m win at Pre Classic

EUGENE, Oregon —Sha'Carri Richardson continued her revenge tour Saturday at the Prefontaine Classic at Hayward Field, winning the women’s 100-meter dash in 10.83 seconds. And according to the sprinting dynamo, she’s just getting started.

It was clear about 30 meters in that Richardson was going to cruise to a victory, topping Saint Lucia’s Julien Alfred (second at 10.93 seconds) and Great Britain’s Dina Asher-Smith (third at 10.98). Jamaican star Elaine Thompson-Herah, the defending gold medalist in both the 100 and 200, finished last at 11.30.

“I’m excited, I’m eager going into the rest of this season, I’m growing, developing and just getting ready to make that USA Team,” Richardson exclusively told USA TODAY Sports afterward, joy radiating off her petite frame.

The Pre is unique in that there are no preliminary heats, only finals. It’s considered a fan-friendly and made-for-TV event. Saturday was the first time this outdoor season that Richardson has run the 100. (She did not run in the LA Grand Prix on May 18, and finished in second and third in two 200 April races.) She admitted afterward she was nervous getting into the blocks — “I’m human,” she said — but said her coach encouraged her to use those nerves to power her down the track. Clearly, the advice worked.

Every time Richardson crouches down to get into blocks, she blows a kiss to the sky, an acknowledgement of her faith in God and how He’s blessed her. It’s a necessary reminder, she said, of “the belief that I have to have in myself first and the blessing I know I’ve been given to give back in the world, to be that vessel, to shine, to allow his glory and His love to reign through me.”

It’s been a journey to get back to this point, she acknowledged.

Just three years ago, Richardson went through a spectacular rise and fall prior to the 2021 Olympics. After winning the 100 meters at the trials, she never made it to Tokyo after testing positive for marijuana, a banned substance. She later said she used marijuana as a way to cope with the shocking news of her biological mother’s passing (Richardson was raised by her grandmother).

She was ridiculed by fans and media alike after the snafu, with much of the criticism racially tinged. Briefly, she disappeared from public view. When she came back, she bombed at the 2022 USATF championships, failing to make the finals in both the 100 and 200. One year later, when she blazed to a 10.82-second win at the U.S. Track and Field Championships — also held in Eugene — she told NBC as she came off the track, “I’m ready mentally, physically and emotionally. And I’m here to stay. I’m not back, I’m better.” She followed that performance up by winning the 100 at the World Championships in Budapest, also taking home gold in the women’s 4x100 relay and bronze in the 200.

Months later, when finished fourth in the 100 at 2023 Pre, she gushed afterward about how she had “fallen back in love with my sport.” She was bubbly and chatty, and obviously in a better place mentally.

But she’s eyeing more.

“We’ve been preparing for the (Olympic) trials since November,” she said Saturday, laughing. “(We’re) continuing to keep that focus, keep that love and keep that positive mindset, knowing that my growth is going (to continue) into the trials and even more going into the Games.”

The last year in particular, Richardson said, has been one of “exploring myself, learning myself, falling deeper in love with myself (and) everything I put myself into.” The key, she’s learned, is to give herself love first so she can keep “falling in love with the process” throughout her career.

That process has three steps between now and June 21, when she’s scheduled to run in her first trials prelim: Grinding, focusing and growing.

Keep an eye on those three, and redemption is surely waiting for Richardson.

Email Lindsay Schnell at and follow her on social media @Lindsay_Schnell

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Sha'Carri Richardson cruises to victory in 100m at Prefontaine Classic