By Mitch Phillips
BUDAPEST (Reuters) -Sha’Carri Richardson finally delivered on three years of promise when the American overcame the challenge of being stuck out in lane nine by delivering a late surge to win world 100 metres gold in a championship record 10.65 seconds on Monday.
The 23-year-old Richardson came through in the last 20 metres to overhaul Jamaica’s Shericka Jackson, who took silver in 10.72, and claim her first global title.
Jamaican Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, seeking a remarkable sixth world 100m title at the age of 36 after an injury-hit season, had to settle for bronze in 10.77, her best of the year.
Richardson missed the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 after testing positive for cannabis then failed to qualify for last year’s worlds on home soil in Eugene.
Hugely popular on social media, and always an outspoken and colourfully attired competitor, she was in good form despite Jackson, who won world silver in Eugene last year, having the fastest time of 10.65 coming into Budapest.
However, Richardson’s global championship struggles looked to be continuing when she was left in the blocks in the semi-finals earlier on Monday and the American had to dig desperately deep to finish third and scrape into the final as a fast loser.
That came with the consequence that she was given lane nine – never popular with sprinters – but she had a far better start in the final and maintained her focus away from the traffic.
Jackson, in lane four, had opened a clear gap and was still ahead at 80 metres before Richardson swept through and raised her arm in triumph. Her time matched Jackson’s 2023 best and bettered Fraser-Pryce’s 2022 championship record of 10.67.
In a spiky post-race press conference Richardson snapped at journalists asking about her poor semi-final start or her previous championship misses.
“In previous interviews I mentioned that I’m not back, I’m better. I’m going to stay humble, I’m not back, I’m better and I’m going to continue to be better,” she said.
“Never give up never allow media or outsiders to define who you are. Always fight. This journey for me since I became a professional is, no matter what happens, you never leave sight or yourself.
“You’ll have good days and bad days but you always have tomorrow.”
Richardson is the first U.S. winner of the women’s 100 since the triumph in 2017 of Tori Bowie, who died this year aged 32.
Coming after Noah Lyles’s victory in the men’s race on Sunday, the U.S. is firmly back on top of the sprinting mountain after so long playing second-fiddle to Jamaica.
“This is incredibly important because so much has been made of Richardson,” said American former 200 and 400 metres champion Michael Johnson.
“She’s a massive talent. She didn’t make the team in Doha and then came back in 2021 and won the trials. Everyone knew who she was after the ban.
“She’s very authentic, she doesn’t make excuses. Some people love to love it and some people love to hate it. I think it’s great for the sport because she has a personality that is unmatched.”
Fraser-Pryce was phlegmatic about her bronze. “Given the circumstances of how I started the season – not bad,” she said.
“Being a champion is not all about winning. I’m grateful to have another medal to add to the tally. I won’t be running the 200, I’ll rest for the 4×100 relay.”
It was another frustrating night for Marie-Josee Ta Lou of the Ivory Coast, who has been in superb form in the Diamond League this season but had to settle for another fourth place in 10.81 having twice finished fourth in Olympic 100m finals.
(Reporting by Mitch Phillips, editing by Ken Ferris)