Friday, 25 May 2012

Sanya Chasing Missing Gold


Despite taking world indoor and outdoor gold over the past three seasons, 400m sprinter Sanya Richards-Ross will not be content with her illustrious track career until she claims the elusive Olympic crown in London this summer, writes Nicola Bamford.

The 27-year-old American has been among the top tier of global one-lap running for eight years now and having been stripped of her 4x400m relay victory from the 2004 Athens Games, due to a doping admission from team-mate Crystal Cox, Richards-Ross is eager to grab the top Olympic prize once more.

Guided by Clyde Hart - the man who coached world 400m record-holder, Michael Johnson to two Olympic quarter-mile glories – Richards-Ross started her 2012 campaign in fine form, winning the world indoor title with 50.79 in Turkey in March, before opening her outdoor season in Jamaica earlier this month.

Based in Texas for most of the year, she opened with an impressive 50.11 clocking and then went onto win the 200m at last weekend’s Great Manchester CityGames in 22.71 on the straightaway surface.

Speaking exclusively after the North-West event, Richards-Ross explained:

“It felt good – it was fun to run 200m on the straightaway and it didn’t seem that far so I had a great run today and I’m happy.

“I wanted to run under 23-seconds - my coach told me to be patient for the first 100m so I’m very satisfied as it was kind of cold and into a head-wind.

“It was a fantastic experience, I wish they had more events like this and in the States, where the fans can get really close to us and experience the great atmosphere – I had a great time and I definitely want to come back.”


Born in Kingston, Jamaica and a US citizen since 2002, Richards-Ross is relieved to be back to top form following a below-par summer last year due to a flare up of Behcets disease, a form of vasculitis which she now has under control.

Finishing seventh in the World outdoor Championship final in Daegu, South Korea, the 48.70 runner managed to salvage her 2011 with a gold medal-winning performance in the 4x400m relay final – both events which she won in the 2009 Berlin edition.

Next competing in Ostrava on Friday, Richards-Ross will then travel to Eugene for the Diamond League event in early June before aiming to seal her Olympic selection at the US trials late next month.

Confident of making her third consecutive Olympic appearance, Richards-Ross revealed:

“My health is the best it’s been for a long time – I feel like I’m past it now and my doctors have me on medication so I’m really happy that I’m physically healthy.

“I was really pleased with my indoor training – at the start of the year, I wasn’t sure if I was going to run indoors but my coach didn’t tweak my training too much and I ran great and I was happy to win my first World indoor title.

“Outdoor’s started off pretty well - I had a good race in Jamaica so I’m really excited as I’m in the best shape I’ve been in for a really long time – I’m healthy and I think it’s going to be a great year.”

An Edge

Married to NFL player Aaron Ross, the 2008 Olympic bronze-medallist and 4x400m champion from the Beijing Games has found an unusual distraction from the sport to keep the nerves and pressure at bay.

Owning and running a beauty salon in her home county, Richards-Ross explained:

“My sister and my mom and I run the business together and it’s one of my favourite pastimes when I’m not training.

“I really enjoy the business side of it and also fashion, hair and beauty and we started out own hair-line which has a range of luxury extensions so it’s really fun for me - I call myself a silent partner but I’m not really that silent,” she joked.

With constant globe-trotting commitments necessary in order to hone her craft ahead of the biggest competition of the year, family support is vital to her success, she continued:

“Aaron’s coach has given him time off to watch the Games and it will be his first time watching me in a major championship so I hope having him there will help give me an edge!”

Due to be based in Birmingham from mid-July in the Team USA preparation camp, Richards-Ross revealed:

“I’m so looking forward to feeling the energy and excitement beforehand, I just can’t wait – I think the Olympics will start at our training camp and then really build up from there.

“I’m focusing on the 400m as I’ve wanted to win the Olympic gold in that event for such a long time, which is so hard to accomplish, though I’m not sure if my coach will want to enter me in the 200m as well.

“The Olympic gold is the only thing missing from my resume so I really want to get that gold medal.

“Christine Ohuruogu will be one of my toughest challengers – she’s going to be competing on home soil, which I think will help her and Novlene Williams-Mills has started off the season really strong as well as Amantle Montsho who won the title last year so I think it’s one of the most exciting races at the Olympic Games.

“Anything less than the gold would be a disappointment for me because that’s what I train for - every sportsman wants to win, that’s why we train so hard.”

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