Sha’Carri Richardson is about to become a household name. On June 20, the 21-year-old sprinter from Dallas, Texas ran the 100-meter U.S. Olympic qualifying heat with a time of 10.64 seconds. Richardson’s finish was the sixth-fastest in history for a woman, and the fourth-fastest time ever for an American woman. She will now go on to compete for Team USA in next month’s Tokyo Olympics.
Bianca Betancourt of Harper’s Bazaar reported that “following her domination of the trial and in a post-competition interview, Richardson revealed that her win follows a heart-wrenching week; the athlete shared that her biological mother passed away just a week prior to her Olympic-certifying win.”
In an interview with NBC Sports, Richardson said, “my family has kept me grounded. This year has been crazy for me. Going from just last week, losing my biological mother, and I’m still here. … Last week, finding out my biological mother passed away and still choosing to pursue my dreams, still coming out here, still here to make the family that I do still have on this earth proud. … I’m highly grateful for them. Without them, there would be no me. Without my grandmother, there would be no Sha’Carri Richardson. My family is my everything, my everything until the day I’m done.”
Old and new fans alike were quick to praise Richardson for her performance, citing her heart and determination; her athletic prowess; her non-traditional athletic style (which includes fiery orange hair, statement acrylic nails, tattoos and piercings); and most importantly, her incredible drive to succeed.
If you haven’t seen it yet, @itskerrii’s race at the Olympic Trials is something to behold—but her grace and grit in this interview might be even more special. We are all so proud of you, Sha’Carri! Can't wait to see what you do in Tokyo! 👏🏾pic.twitter.com/QPbAQLzF7d
— Michelle Obama (@MichelleObama) June 22, 2021
There’s nothing like the love of a grandmother. Beautiful ❤️
21 year old Sha'Carri Richardson embraces her grandmother after qualifying for her first Olympic Games.
— Karine Jean-Pierre (@K_JeanPierre) June 22, 2021
In addition to being a role model for young Black women overall, many hope Richardson will become a new hero for the LGBTQ community as well.
Out Magazine’s Donald Padgett reported that Richardson “posted a rainbow emoji to Twitter and thanked her girlfriend for the hair color choice” on the day of the race.
“My girlfriend actually picked my color,” she told USA Today in a pre-race interview. “She said it, like, spoke to her, the fact that it was just so loud and vibrant, and that’s who I am.”
With so much buzzworthy press already under her belt, Richardson promises to be one of the biggest U.S. stars competing in the Olympics. Despite the hardships and losses she’s faced, she has promised to represent America in Tokyo in every way possible.
In a post-race interview with NBC, she summarized herself and her attitude by saying: “I just want the world to know that I’m that girl … and every time I step on the track, I’m going to try to do what it is that me, my coach, my support team believe I can do and the talent that God blessed me to have. … I’m never going to take an opportunity to perform in vain.”