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Sha'Carri Richardson overcomes wobbly start for win in first heat at Olympic trials


EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — Sha'Carri Richardson wobbled out of the starting block and raced with her right shoe untied but still won her preliminary 100-meter heat in 10.88 seconds Friday to open her quest for the Olympics at the U.S. track trials.

The 24-year-old sprinter, whose victory three years ago at trials was erased because of a positive test for marijuana, stumbled to her right at the start and was briefly in last place. She overcame that mistake quickly to not only overcome the field but finish with the best time of the night's four opening-round heats.

She's back on the track Saturday for the semifinals, and if she finishes in the top two in that race, she'll go for the title. The top three finishers in the final will head to Paris for the Olympics where Richardson would try to add that title to the world championship she won last year.

“I definitely didn’t have the start I’ve been training to have in this moment,” she said in a post-race interview with NBC. “But I’m still not panicking. I’m staying patient and knowing no matter what’s going on to continue to run my race.”

This race was no masterpiece, but it didn’t need to be. Even with the stumble, she was only .02 seconds off the time that won trials three years ago on the same track.

“That tells me I'm prepared,” she said. “I just need to put it all together.”

Things went sideways shortly after her victory in 2021, when her marijuana positive was revealed, after which she disclosed she had been battling with depression in the wake of her mother’s recent death and other issues.

Ever since, she has been on a long comeback that she looks at a different way — “I’m not back, I’m better.” And, by almost every count — especially the ones the public can chart on the track — she is.

She came into trials as the reigning world champion, and also with a victory on this track last month in the Prefontaine Classic. She is the early favorite to win the Olympics in what is always a stacked field filled with Jamaicans.

Asked how she's enjoying her rising fortunes, she said “I'm enjoying the recognition of hard work, the support that comes with it."

“The fact that the world can see so much work I've done on myself, for myself, and the world receives that, I'm appreciative and I will always show up for my fans,” she said.


AP Summer Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/2024-paris-olympic-games