Sha’Carri Richardson made up for missing the Tokyo Olympics due to a drug ban to sensationally win the women’s 100 metres world title in Budapest on Monday in a championship record of 10.65sec.
The 23-year-old American stormed home from lane nine — unpopular for sprinters — to edge Jamaican duo Shericka Jackson, who ran 10.72sec, and five-time champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who clocked 10.77sec.
Richardson missed the delayed Tokyo Games in 2021 after testing positive for marijuana at the US trials.
However, after surviving a terrible start in her semi-final she was a different prospect in the final in the Hungarian capital.
As she crossed the line she looked up at the screen and held her hands to her face with a look of shock.
“I’m back!” she said immediately afterwards.
Richardson first burst onto the scene in 2019 but this was the first time she has turned her promise and fast times into a global title.
In the press conference later, she said her lesson for others seeking inspiration from her win was one of resilience.
“Never give up,” she said.
“Never allow the media or outsiders to get you down but only let yourself fight and decide your fate.”
Richardson, who said at the time of the ban that she smoked the marijuana after hearing about the death of her biological mother, said she knew she had many critics but she drew comfort from them just as much as from her close circle.
“The support from my coach to my family to supporters to the haters — all of them motivated me and helped me prevail,”she said.
‘Grew up watching her’
Richardson had barely made it into the final, going through only as one of the two fastest losers after almost being left in her blocks in the semi.
However, she made no mistake when it really mattered, driving out fast and although Jackson held the lead entering the final few metres the American had enough leg speed to pass her to her right.
Jackson’s dreams of becoming only the fourth woman to achieve the sprint double have been shattered but she still has the 200m title to defend later this week.
The Jamaican, who has not always seen eye-to-eye with Richardson, went over and embraced her.
“I am not sure why I did not execute as well as I know I can but I will go back and watch the race again,” said the 29-year-old, who also took 100m silver in Eugene last year.
Reigning champion Fraser-Pryce, 36, edged Marie-Josee Ta Lou for the bronze.
The Jamaican still managed a smile despite failing in her bid to equal pole vaulter Sergey Bubka’s world championship record of six golds in the same event.
Wearing one of her trademark brightly-coloured wigs, Fraser-Pryce seemed content with her performance as she had a truncated season due to a knee injury.
“Given the circumstances of how I started the season I am really grateful,” she told the BBC.
“For me I am grateful I have another medal to add to the tally.”
Seven of the nine finalists went under 11 seconds in a top-class final that reflected an era of high-quality women’s sprinting.
“Last year I ran and won in a championship record and it took another championship record to win tonight,” said Fraser-Pryce.
“So it just speaks to the level of consistency for female sprinting and being able to make sure that when you show up you have to give 100 percent.”
Richardson paid tribute to the remarkable records of two-time Olympic champion Fraser-Pryce — even if she highlighted the difference in age.
“I grew up watching her,” said Richardson before collapsing into hysterical laughter and grasping the hand of Fraser-Pryce, who is 13 years her senior.
“I knew I had to do my best to compete because she has set the standards.
“This is what makes the sport so much fun. You can always do more and she makes you do that.”
Richardson is the first American woman to win the world championships 100m since the late Tori Bowie in London in 2017.
Bowie was found dead at her home earlier this year aged 32.