Sha'Carri Richardson

Sha'Carri Richardson. Photo: Instagram/itsshacarri

Sha'Carri Richardson: Sprinting towards redemption at Paris Olympics 2024

Paris 2024 isn't just another Olympics for Sha'Carri Richardson – it's her moment to rewrite her Olympic story.

As the 2024 Paris Olympics approach, all eyes are on Sha'Carri Richardson, the dynamic sprinter set for a remarkable comeback on the world's biggest stage. At 24 years of age, Sha'Carri Richardson isn't just aiming for redemption; she's ready to prove that she's better than ever before.

Let’s take it back to the beginning. Richardson's journey started in Dallas, Texas, where she discovered her passion for running at a young age. Raised by her grandmother, after her mother left when she was young, Richardson’s early life was marked by challenges, but her talent on the track quickly became evident. By high school, she was already a standout, winning state championships and setting records. Her breakout moment came at Louisiana State University (LSU) in 2019, where she shattered the 100m National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) record with a time of 10.75 seconds, instantly marking her as a rising star in the world of track and field.

From there, Richardson's career has been a rollercoaster of highs and lows. In 2021, she won the U.S. Olympic Trials with a stunning 10.86 seconds in the 100m, securing her spot on Team USA, a week after her biological mother passed away. However, her Olympic dreams were put on hold when she tested positive for marijuana, leading to a suspension that kept her out of the Tokyo Games. Despite the setback, in 2023, she won the 100m at the World Championships in Budapest with a time of 10.65 seconds, the fastest time in the world that year. 

Beyond the Track

Off the track, Richardson has used her platform to share her mental health journey with her fans, hoping to shed some insight into a dark situation. After her biological mother passed, Richardson admitted to go into a “dark place”. She shared on her Instagram, “losing that connection with my mother really trapped me. She was supposed to be my world, and suddenly she was gone. I kept asking myself, ‘Then why am I here?’ It really took me to a very dark place..." She’s also stated that she is now on her healing journey: “I will believe, heal, love, and take control (OF WHAT I CAN) and actually live my life”.

Richardson has also been vocal about systemic issues in sports, particularly those affecting Black women athletes. Following her suspension from the Tokyo Olympics, she highlighted inconsistencies in drug testing policies and their disproportionate impact on athletes of colour. This came to a head after Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva tested positive for Trimetazidine (a drug used to treat chest pain) and was still allowed to compete in the Beijing Winter Olympics in 2022.

“Can we get a solid answer on the difference [between] her situation and mine?” Richardson tweeted. “My mother died and I can’t run and was also favored to place top 3. The only difference I see is I’m a black young lady.”

Through her outspokenness, Richardson has become a significant voice in the push for greater equity and fairness in the sporting world.

Looking Forward

"I'm not back, I'm better," Richardson declared after her world championship victory in Budapest, a mantra that has become her rallying cry.

This comeback isn't about returning to her former self; it's about surpassing it. Paris 2024 isn't just another Olympics for Sha'Carri Richardson – it's her moment to rewrite her Olympic story, to transform setback into triumph, and to solidify her place among the greatest sprinters in history.