Athletics-Focused Richardson eyes Olympic trials redemption

Athletics - Diamond League - Xiamen - Xiamen Egret Stadium, Xiamen, China - April 20, 2024 Sha'carri Richardson of the U.S. reacts after finishing second in the women's 200m final REUTERS/Tingshu Wang/File Photo

(Reuters) - American fan favourite Sha'Carri Richardson will look to add another chapter to her comeback story with a ticket to the Paris Games when the United States team trials kick off on Friday, three years after her Olympic dream came crashing down.

The Texan catapulted herself into household fame when she won the 100 metres at the 2021 trials, but a positive test for cannabis saw her miss out on competing in Tokyo.

Richardson stunningly failed to qualify for the World Championships at the same Hayward Field track in 2022. But she made good on years of potential a year later, winning the 100m world title and taking third in the 200m in Budapest.

Her trophy case now awaits an Olympic gold.

"Back on the track, grounding myself," Richardson said in a televised interview after winning the 100m in 10.83 seconds in her season debut over the distance at last month's Prefontaine Classic.

"This year's been humbling and I just understand no matter what's going on to always stay focused on the mission ahead."

Richardson, 24, has kept a limited competition schedule this year and finished second at the Xiamen Diamond League meet and third at Suzhou in the 200m.

She is registered to run the 100 and 200 at the U.S. trials.

"At the beginning of the season definitely every race counted as an experience, as a lesson, and I feel like, beginning of the season, again it was humbling for me to remain focused on the mission ahead," Richardson told NBC.

Her biggest challenge in the shorter sprint will likely come from newcomer Jacious Sears, after the 22-year-old set the world lead of 10.77 seconds in April, just two hundredths of a second off Richardson's collegiate record.

But Sanya Richards-Ross, the 400 metres Olympic champion in 2012, sees few who can challenge Richardson.

"I'm really happy with how Sha'Carri Richardson looked at the Prefontaine, so I feel like she's in great shape," Richards-Ross told reporters earlier this month.

"Obviously when she's in great shape and running that well, it's hard to beat her."

(Reporting by Amy Tennery in New York; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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