BUDAPEST — Sha’Carri Richardson had 10 minutes. Just 10 minutes to spend with her coach between the semifinals and final of the world championships 100m on Monday night.
Dennis Mitchell used that precious time — the shortest time they’ve ever had together between two rounds, he said — to work on Richardson’s start.
She had the second-slowest reaction time of the 24 semifinalists. Richardson rallied to finish third in her semi and advance to the eight-woman final in the seventh spot as a time qualifier (but still with the third-best time across all semis). A ninth woman was later added.
Mitchell’s drill has his sprinters hone in on his voice on the warm-up track, then burst out to nearby markers.
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Once that quick work was done, Mitchell sent Richardson off to the biggest race of her life with a question: “Who’s the fastest?”
“But don’t answer,” he said. “Show me.”
Back in the stadium, Richardson’s reaction time went from .222 in her semi to .156 in the final. She delivered the best wind-legal time of her life — a championship record 10.65 seconds — to earn the world’s fastest woman title in her world debut.
She won from lane nine — the farthest outside lane. She became the first woman to cross the finish line first in an Olympic or world 100m final having not finished in the top two in her semifinal.
In the race, she overtook Jamaicans: silver medalist Shericka Jackson (second-fastest 200m sprinter in history) and bronze medalist Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (a legend with seven combined Olympic and world 100m titles).
“This journey for me, from since I first came on the professional level [in 2019] to now is just knowing that no matter what happens, you never lose sight of yourself,” she said. “Never lose sight of your faith. Always remember why you started.”
Richardson, a 23-year-old from Dallas, made her first big splash as an LSU freshman, winning the 2019 NCAA title in 10.75 to become the ninth-fastest woman in history. (She also broke Allyson Felix‘s 14-year-old world junior record in the 200m about 45 minutes later.)
It took another four years to make her first U.S. team.
She won the Tokyo Olympic Trials 100m, then had the result stripped for a positive marijuana test. Last year, she was eliminated in the first round of the 100m at nationals (then, in a series of throwback Instagram story photos on Dec. 31, said she had been injured, but didn’t want to reveal it at the meet because she’s not one to make excuses).
This year, she won the U.S. 100m title. She entered this meet ranked second in the world in 2023 by best time (and with two head-to-head wins over the world No. 1, Jackson).
“A year ago, we were light years away from a full package of being able to compete at this level,” said her agent, former 110m hurdles world record holder Renaldo Nehemiah. “She’s put in the work. She’s transformed herself, prioritized the things that she can control and made this the love of her life, and it’s so beautiful to see.”
Monday’s semifinals marked Richardson’s first global championship race under the lights.
“I knew the introductions in the semifinals, the moment was big,” Nehemiah said. “I felt it. I saw it on her face, and the fact that she didn’t even react out of the blocks [to the starter’s gun] told me. But she had a heart of a champion. She ran them down.”
Mitchell joked that his reaction to Richardson’s start was, “As most coaches will say, ‘What the hell are you doing?’” Then Richardson got going, passed five women and clocked 10.84, a time that was expected to hold up to advance.
The third place still cost her about 10 minutes of prep time for the final an hour later because she had to remain in a waiting room until after the following semifinal to confirm she advanced.
Still, Mitchell said, “We knew we were going to be OK.”
Richardson described her lane nine assignment for the final as “being in my own world.” Jackson was in four and Fraser-Pryce in five, middle lanes for finishing top two in their semis.
Richardson took a victory lap with Jackson and Fraser-Pryce. When the trio reached a section of Jamaican fans, they took a group selfie and Richardson said to the crowd, “We like each other.”
Soon after, NBC Sports’ Lewis Johnson asked how she improved her start from the semifinals to the final.
“My mindset,” she said. “Shaking off the nerves, just knowing I’ve done this before. It’s just another race.”
Then came the medalists’ press conference.
A journalist asked Fraser-Pryce about Marie-Josée Ta Lou, the Ivorian who finished fourth in a global 100m for the third time (she also owns silver and bronze medals). After the Jamaican’s answer, Richardson added her own thoughts.
“She’s an amazing athlete,” she said of Ta Lou. “I don’t care what medal she did or didn’t get. She’s an amazing athlete, and she’s a phenomenal person. So no medal position defines her. Remember that.”
The highlight of the 13-minute conference was when Richardson was asked about the 36-year-old Fraser-Pryce and said, “I grew up watching her.” That drew an eyebrow-raised look from the legend sitting next to her, then laughs from both women.
The moderator mentioned a line that Richardson has repeated this season, including to the stadium crowd in an on-track interview: “I’m not back. I’m better.” He suggested she can now say, “I’m not back. I’m the best.”
Richardson replied: “No, I’m going to stay humble. I’m not back. I’m better, and I’m going to continue to be better.”
Her week isn’t done. Nehemiah said that Richardson told him that she came to Budapest to win three gold medals. The 200m starts Wednesday. The 4x100m relay is Saturday.
Also Monday, American Grant Holloway became the second man to win three consecutive 110m hurdles golds after the late American Greg Foster. Holloway, the Tokyo Olympic silver medalist, then said he’s now third on his own all-time ranking in the event behind Allen Johnson (five golds between Olympics and worlds) and Aries Merritt (2012 Olympic champion and world record holder).
“So I want to continue to keep working my way up the totem pole,” Holloway said.
He clocked 12.96 seconds, distancing Olympic champion Hansle Parchment of Jamaica by 11 hundredths. American Daniel Roberts took bronze, his first global championship medal.
Jamaican Rasheed Broadbell, fastest in the world this year (12.94), crashed out of Sunday’s first round.
Hugues Fabrice Zango became the first athlete from Burkina Faso to win a world title with a 17.64-meter triple jump. Zango was already the first from his country to win an Olympic medal in any sport (bronze in Tokyo) and a track worlds medal of any color (bronze in 2019, silver in 2022).
Jaydon Hibbert, an 18-year-old rising University of Arkansas sophomore from Jamaica, grabbed the back of his right thigh after the takeoff of his first jump and withdrew. Hibbert has the world’s best jump this year of 17.87 meters and had the best jump of worlds — 17.70 in qualifying.
Olympic champion Daniel Stahl of Sweden won the discus on the last throw of the final. He unleased a championship record 71.46 meters to overtake defending world champ Kristjan Čeh of Slovenia.
Worlds continue Tuesday, live on USA Network and Peacock, featuring Olympic and world champion and world record holder Faith Kipyegon in the women’s 1500m final.
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