Sha’Carri Richardson still has to figure out how to handle the disappointment
Sha’Carri Richardson competes in the Women’s 200 Meter Semifinals during the 2022 USATF Outdoor Championships at Hayward Field on June 26, 2022 in Eugene, Oregon. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
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Sometimes we forget that international track star Sha’Carri Richardson is otherwise just another black woman at 22, young by adult standards.
Besides being one of the fastest women in American history, Richardson reminds me a bit of my daughters and their girlfriends, all in their twenties, navigating troubling times that stress them out and worry parents. Science suggests that most people don’t reach full brain development until they’re 25, but I remember being a genius then. Living longer taught me something else.
Richardson will also learn as he grows up.
She is currently participating in her latest masterclass, Managing a Low Point II, with lessons learned from last week’s stunning and disappointing performance at the U.S. Outdoor Track & Field Championships. The result of his best event, the 100 meters, is pitiful. Richardson failed to make it out of the preliminaries, posting the ninth slowest time in a field of 31 competitors.
The 200 meters was better, as she reached the semis, but not well enough. Richardson’s time was the 10th fastest of 16 competitors; the top three qualified for the world championships next month. Overall, the weekend was a crushing setback, especially as Richardson tweeted in July 2021 that “I promise I’ll be your world champion next year.”
She was in a storm at the time, having just lost her spot on the US Olympic team due to smoking weed. The drug test drew as much attention as her flamboyant hair, flashy outfits and fabulous nails. Richardson was poised to become a superstar as a light-footed fashion icon, but instead became a notorious cautionary tale.
Not backing up your bragging isn’t the worst thing. Athletes have to believe in themselves and some say it loud and clear. But losses can be followed by words and actions that demonstrate growth and maturity.
Richardson also didn’t show much in a video “to my haters.” I’d say ‘kiss my ass’ but you can’t afford it,” she posted on Instagram, lying on her back and spreading her legs to make it easier. A caption read: “To him who swears that he knows me and my story and thinks the track runs my life.”
The track may not rule his life – and neither should it – but the sport has put a strain on his existence. She has taken advantage of the profile and platform the runway provides, placing her among the most recognizable stars in her field. And she will live with that for quite a while, even if the time for victory is already over.
A friend of mine who is a former track star says Richardson is more than likely done. Yes, she won the 200 meters and finished second in the 100 meters in an event shortly before the nationals. But this field did not include the most talented sprinters. Last week, against the best in the country, Richardson’s times weren’t competitive. Then she talked about the media’s performance, not her own.
“I come to speak, not just on my own behalf, but on behalf of all athletes, that when you do interviews you should all respect athletes more,” she told reporters. “You should all understand them, if they win, if they lose, whatever the case, athletes deserve way more respect than when you all just threw cameras in their faces.”
As the national championships approached, she expressed her regrets for having participated in the Today show after his suspension, an interview that stepped up the spotlight. “I wish I had never done this,” she said. quote tweeted the one year old clip of Today. “I wish I had a choice when it was time for me to tell my story.”
If she was not ready, the fault lies with her advisers. The media always wants the story, and savvy stars know how to make it work for both parties. High-level basketball and football players are often more advanced at his age, more experienced with mainstream media in college and in professional leagues.
Richardson learned on the fly after a painful chapter. Imagine missing the Olympics for smoking weed after finding out in an interview that your birth mother died. (It’s ridiculous that the substance is banned, but those are the rules and I knew it.)
Last August, in her first competition since missing the Olympics, Richardson finished last in the 100 meters at the Préfontaine Classic. She may never run as fast as she did at the Olympic trials and may never reach the world championships. There have only been a handful of track athletes like Allyson Felix, Carl Lewis and Usain Bolt, superstars who stay on top for years and years.
Richardson is fun to watch and I hope we see more of it. But there are no guarantees and it is unclear what will come next. Maybe she will start a media business as suggested. Either way, she’ll have to make it like other 22-year-old black women. Bless their hearts.
The village is there to help if allowed.
Deron Snyder of Brooklyn is an award-winning columnist who lives near DC and promised Alpha to HU-You Know! It reaches high, sets low, advances, pushes, holds and throws. I understood? Get more at blackdoorventures.com/deron
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