Sanya Richards golden hopes

Richards’ Golden ambitions - IAAF Golden League
Friday 2 June 2006
Oslo, Norway – On a night when would-be contenders for the IAAF Golden League Jackpot began to stake out their territory, the most dominant win produced on the track was undoubtedly that of Sanya Richards in the 400 metres.

In a race that appeared close until midway through the final bend, the 21-year-old American powered from her opposition en route to a world-leading 49.82, more than a full second ahead of runner-up Sherika Williams who clocked a personal best 50.93.

Sanya Richards in Oslo
(Getty Images)

“Coach [Clyde] Hart wanted me to execute better than I’ve been, so I really tried to focus on that and I’m really happy with the time,” said Richards, the reigning World championships silver medallist whose previous season’s best of 49.89 was also the previous world best.

Richards suggested she was expecting a closer race, but in the end it wasn’t even close.

“Coming off the turn they were all there, so I just wanted to kick strong. I wasn’t sure how far back they were, but it was a good race.”

Less than a week after her dominant win at last Sunday’s Prefontaine Classic, Richards said she was particularly pleased about how her pursuit of a slice of the $1 million Jackpot pie began.

“I definitely wanted to get the ‘W’ for the first Golden League meet, so I’m excited about that.” Four, or perhaps even five more victories don’t seem terribly out of the question. Last year, Richards won 10 of her 12 races, paced the world with her 48.92 personal best from Zurich where she became the youngest women to join the event’s sub-49 second club.

“I think it sets me up well [for the Jackpot],” she said. “I’m really confident and happy with the way I’m racing. So hopefully I should win the other ones too.

Next up for the former University of Texas star is the Norwich Union British Grand Prix in Gateshead, the first U.K stop on the IAAF World Athletics Tour. There she’ll race the 200 and depending on her performance, said she may contest a 200/400 double at the U.S. National Championships later this month in Indianapolis.

“Coach Hart and I are still thinking about it so it all depends on that race in Gateshead,” she said. Richards won the 200 at last month’s adidas Track Classic in Carson, Calif., clocking a slightly wind-assisted 22.42, her fastest ever, leaving her excited about her prospects over the half lap as well.

“I PRed for the first time in two years, I ran faster than my indoor PR, so I finally broke that barrier and ran 22.4 outdoors. So I’m excited. I’m the fastest I’ve ever been before.”

How much faster does she plan to be this summer?

“The American record is 48.8,” she said, referring to the 48.83 by Valerie Brisco Hooks in Los Angeles nearly 22 years ago. “So I want to run 48.7.”

Bob Ramsak for the IAAF