Sha’Carri Richardson is one of the latest athletes to garner global attention as she speeds through every finish line with style. The track-and-field star has emerged as a fan-favorite as she heads to the 2021 Olympic Games this summer in Tokyo. At 21 years old, Richardson is just getting started and her dominance is not only fun to watch, but empowering as she beats the odds and obtains success.
As we prepare to root for Sha’Carri Richardson, below are five things to know about the spirited newcomer with the confidence and skill to back it up.
Her Hair Color Is Often Reflective Of Something Personal
In the spirit of track-and-field legend Florence Griffith Joyner, Sha’Carri Richardson brings her full self to the track, including long nails, gold chains, tattoos, and vibrant hairstyles. She has shared how her color choice can often reflect her mindset. She revealed to the Olympics’ official website that she often wears blonde to remind her of home.
“The color is based off how I want to feel. Like the red puts me in a very dominating mood. And sometimes I feel that can be overwhelming, so when I need to calm down I have black hair. The black calms me and makes me blend in instead of being extra,” Richardson shared.
“The blonde is for when I’m going home to Texas. Or I’ll wear it when I am away from home and wanting to feel like home.”
Her recent victory earning her a spot on the Olympic team was made wearing orange hair, a color she said her girlfriend selected.
“My girlfriend picked this color because it’s loud and, honestly, dangerous. She said you need to look the best and be the best,” the athletic sprinter said to The Orange County Register.
Sha’Carri Richardson Attended LSU Before Going Professional
Before deciding to be a professional athlete, Sha’Carri Richardson attended Lousiana State University where she excelled as a student-athlete. As a freshman in 2019, she set the collegiate record in the 100-meter dash at the NCAA Championships to claim her first NCAA title, among a handful of other records, titles and wins earned in indoor and outdoor events. That year, she was named SEC Freshman Track Athlete of the Year and earned the 2019 Bowerman award, the highest individual honor in collegiate track and field.
“It feels rewarding knowing that my hard work has paid off,” she said at the time to The Advocate. “I started running at a very young age. I’ve had to make sacrifices, and my success came, of course, at a young age, but it shows that the work you put in is better than anything that you go through. Because the hurt is temporary. … Reward and success is forever. No one can ever take that from you.”
Richardson Winning Gold Would Be Historic
If Sha’Carri Richardson takes first place in the 100m race during the 2021 Olympics, she would be the next American woman to win gold at the 100 meters since Gail Devers in 1996. According to the Guardian, she hopes to become as globally dominant as Usain Bolt and hopes to serve as an inspiration herself.
“I want women to see they can be exactly who they are. You don’t have to be all quiet and shy unless you want to be. You don’t have to shield yourself. I felt generations of women before us were like that. That’s a very big message I would like to send.”
Richardson Has Been Open About Her Mental Health
Naomi Osaka has put a global spotlight on the mental health of athletes during high-pressure competitions. Her opt-out of the 2021 French Open has sparked important conversations surrounding the issue of depression among athletes. Sha’Carri Richardson has been open about her struggles and triumphs. She has publicly discussed being abandoned by her mother and an attempt to take her own life in high school.
“I have a therapist, and during the pandemic, we’ve been doing Zoom calls, or text messages if I need to talk. He comes up with little tactics or different advice that helps me,” she shared with Team USA in August 2020.
She continued to describe how she hopes others view athletes, saying, “I would want them to know that we go through things, too. We are human, just like they are. We just happen to run a little faster and be a little stronger. But at the end of the day, we all want to be heard and understood.”
Sha’Carri Richardson Puts Family Over Everything
After winning the 100-meter race, the track star headed straight to her family in the stands for a celebratory hug. She warmly embraced her grandmother who excitingly kissed her forehead.
THIS is what it's all about.@itskerrii is headed to the Olympics, and she immediately ran into the stands to celebrate with her family.@usatf | #TokyoOlympics x #TrackFieldTrials21 pic.twitter.com/MjvZmmOKPg
— #TokyoOlympics (@NBCOlympics) June 20, 2021
During a post-event presser, she shared how her family has kept her focused amid life circumstances, namely her grandmother who gives a bulk of the credit. Richardson also revealed a week prior to the event, her biological mother passed away.
“I’m still here. Last week, finding out my biological mother passed away and I’m still choosing to pursue my dreams, still coming out here, still here to make the family that I do have on this Earth proud,” she shared, still catching her breath.
“And the fact that nobody knows what I go through. Everybody has struggles and I understand that, but y’all see me on this track and y’all see the poker face I put on. But nobody but them and my coach know[s] what I go through on a day-to-day basis, and I’m highly grateful to them. Without them, there would be no me. without my grandmother, there would be no Sha’Carri Richardson. So my family is my everything. My everything until the day I’m done.”
"I'm highly blessed and grateful… My family is my everything. My everything until the day I'm done."
— #TokyoOlympics (@NBCOlympics) June 20, 2021
Relive Sha’Carri’s Olympic qualifier victory down below: