Sha’Carri Richardson makes statement with blistering 200m at US Olympic trials

Sha’Carri Richardson became the second-fastest women’s 200-meter runner in the world this year as she cruised to victory in her heat at the US Olympic Trials.

Having already secured her spot on the US team for the Paris Olympics by winning the 100 meters last week, Richardson’s time of 21.99 seconds further cemented her status as a strong favorite to win silverware at the Games.

Only compatriot Mckenzie Long has run faster this year, clocking 21.83 and 21.95 seconds at the NCAA Championships earlier this month.

Long ran the fifth-fastest time in Thursday’s heats, behind Gabby Thomas – the 200m bronze medalist at the Tokyo Olympics – NCAA record holder Abby Steiner, and 2019 world championship silver medalist Brittany Brown.

Richardson’s time was just 0.07 seconds shy of her personal best set at last year’s world championships. She is scheduled to run in the first semifinal at Eugene’s Hayward Field on Friday, hoping to secure her qualification for Saturday’s final.

“Any time I touch the track, there’s an opportunity for me to work on being my best self,” Richardson told NBC after her heat. “Every time I touch the track, it’s pressure.

“My coach’s biggest thing is execution,” she added. “I’m really just focusing in on executing the curve to make the straightaway much, much easier. I feel like today … I did that great, actually, but I know I have room for improvement.”

At the Olympic trials three years ago, Richardson won the women’s 100m but was banned from competing in Tokyo after testing positive for THC, a chemical found in marijuana.

The 24-year-old ran the fastest 100m time in the world this year with her victory at the trials on Saturday, finishing in 10.71 seconds.

The top three athletes in each event at the trials earn a spot on the US team for the Paris Olympics, which begin on July 26.

Another athlete already qualified for the team, Noah Lyles, also breezed through his 200m heat in 20.10 seconds, the fastest time of the day ahead of Erriyon Knighton’s 20.15.

Lyles has not lost a 200m race since taking bronze in the event at the Tokyo Olympics, and he is arguably the form male sprinter in the world right now having taken victory in the 100m at the trials on Sunday.

Elsewhere, world record holder Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone won her 400m hurdles heat by a huge margin, finishing in 53.07 – more than 1.5 seconds quicker than Anna Cockrell, the next-fastest athlete in the heats.

In the men’s event, Tokyo silver medalist Rai Benjamin comfortably won his heat, while Caleb Dean set the fastest time of the day with 49.45.

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