Sha'Carri Richardson said she was always a champion. In her debut at track and field's World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary on Monday, she took home the 100-meter gold.
The blazing 10.65-second run came all the way from the outside in lane 9. The time was a world championship record and personal best for the 23-year-old. The world record is 10.49 from Florence Griffith-Joyner, and Richardson is now tied for the title of fifth-fastest woman over 100 meters in history.
It was an unprecedented performance, as no one has ever won the title after making a final based on time instead of auto-qualifying. Richardson is also the first American 100-meter world champion in six years. Before Richardson, the late Tori Bowie was the last U.S. sprinter to bring home the 100-meter gold from worlds in 2017.
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Richardson looked stunned after she crossed the line, covering her mouth as she looked at the time and sending a kiss to the sky. A hard-fought goal was realized for the former LSU standout, and it demanded the poise of a seasoned veteran to execute.
After Richardson led the field as the fastest qualifier in 10.92 seconds on Sunday, it wasn't a sure bet that she would even make the final. Just an hour before claiming the world title, she ran 10.84 in her semifinal heat after an uncharacteristic start and some misplaced lateral steps. But she gathered herself for a strong finish to come in third behind Jamaica's Shericka Jackson and Marie Jose Ta Lou of the Ivory Coast.
With the top two finishers taking the auto-qualifying spots in her heat, the Texan had to wait for the next heat to finish to learn if her time was fast enough. After learning that she made the final, she was forced to clear the previous race out of her mind, a task likely easier said than done.
From being stripped of her national title and Tokyo Olympic berth in 2021 after testing positive for marijuana to failing to make the semis at 2022 US Championships before worlds, Richardson battled for this moment. Early in the season, she said she found peace on the track. Three months later, that revelation continued to pay off.
"I'm not worried about the world anymore. I've seen the world be my friend, I've seen the world turn on me. At the end of the day, I've always been with me. God has always been with me. So being on this scale now, it's my time," she said after the qualifying race Sunday. "It's always been my time, but now it's my time to actually do it for myself, and the people that felt like me, and the people that look like me, and the people that know the truth about themselves as well. I represent those people."
Placement in the far lane during the final meant Richardson had to run without any proximity to the favorites, outside the heat of competition in the middle of the track. Jamaican legend Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce was in lane 5, with Jackson right next to her. But it didn't matter. Richardson was already gone as Jackson and Fraser-Pryce raced to the finish in 10.72 seconds and 10.77 seconds, respectively, for second and third place.
The Jamaican and American rivalry is alive and well in the women's 100. The top three finishers haven't always gotten along over the years, but it was nothing but respect after the final as they posed for photos and embraced one another after the race.
When Richardson won the U.S. Outdoor title in the 100 meters with a world-leading 10.71 this summer, it was Jackson who bested the time. She won the Jamaican Championships in 10.65, and now she's the world silver medalist. Fraser-Pryce's bronze finish made her the most decorated Jamaican athlete at world's, surpassing Usain Bolt.
Grant Holloway makes 110 hurdles history
American Grant Holloway completed a historic feat on Monday night, too.
Running a time of 12.96 in the 110-meter hurdles, he became the second man to win three consecutive world titles in the event since the late Greg Foster. Foster was the 110 hurdles Olympic silver medalist in 1984 and won gold in the event at world's in 1983, 1987 and 1991.
Holloway, 25, was the 2021 Tokyo Olympic silver medalist. He is also the second-fastest man in the history of the event with a personal best of 12.81 seconds.
"I'm speechless right now," Holloway said Monday. "Nothing feels like the first one, but this one I'm definitely going to cherish in my heart."
Olympic champion Hansle Parchment of Jamaica won silver, running a time of 13.07 seconds in his comeback after withdrawing before last year’s final with a reported hamstring injury,
This year's final marked a reshowing for America after the U.S. was shut out of the event in 2017. Two other Americans made the final, with 25-year-old Daniel Roberts winning bronze in 13.09 seconds.
Holloway was a standout at the University of Florida. He often found himself racing against Roberts, who went to the University of Kentucky. The two went head-to-head in the 2019 NCAA Outdoor Championships' 110 hurdle final, which was the NCAA's fastest 110m hurdle race ever.
"To come back out here and do it with my brother [Roberts], we started running in college together, having battles, now we're able to have these battles on the world stage," Holloway said.
Another former Gator had a standout moment Monday in the women's 400-meter semis. American Talitha Diggs, 20, advanced to the world championship final, coming in second with a 50.86 from lane 9. She's the youngest in the field.
It was the end of the road for American Lynna Irby-Jackson, who was called up to run the 400 at worlds after Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone withdrew due to a knee injury. Even though Irby-Jackson had the fastest time for an American in the event, running 50.71, she was third in her heat. The last time qualifier was 50.62.