For an athlete who only just made it into the women’s 100m final, qualifying from one of the non-automatic spots, Sha’Carri Richardson showed up in style to snatch the gold medal with a championship record in an iconic showdown that denied the Jamaicans the kind of golden finish they had envisaged.
In the last decade, Jamaican athletes have won four titles in six editions of the World Championships, including a medal sweep last year in Oregon. They were gunning for a fifth at the World Athletics Championships Budapest 23, but were stopped by the new sheriff in town – Richardson.
And as she crossed the line, pumping her right fist, this was indeed Richardson’s night – one that saw her rebound after missing the last edition of the World Championships due to less than favourable circumstances.
The evening had started with some drama as both Ewa Swoboda and Dina Asher-Smith finished third in their semifinals with identical times of 11.01.
Richardson also faced a scare, with her heat being a sort of final before ‘the final’ – drawn alongside the fastest woman this year, Shericka Jackson (10.65), and two-time 100m world medallist Marie-Josee Ta Lou (10.75). The 2019 NCAA champion was left in the blocks and had to fight for a ticket to the final, finishing outside the two automatic spots in third place (10.84).
Eventually, all three athletes were given the nod, heightening the anticipation and intensity of the race – nine athletes to one gold medal.
Julien Alfred was almost thrown off course too after being awarded a yellow card in the third semifinal for disturbing the start, which made her overly cautious leaving the blocks. Nevertheless, she came from behind to win in 10.92, with Brittany Brown following in 10.97.
The final line up was as intimidating as they come, stacked with four of the eight fastest women of all time. Any newcomer would have been fazed, but not the 23-year-old Richardson who rose to the occasion when it really mattered.
Being drawn in the outer lane proved a blessing in disguise for the US champion, somewhat keeping her out of the line of vision of Jackson and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who were assigned inside lanes.
With her face set as a flint as she blazed down the track, Jackson looked crisp as she went toe-to-toe with the rest of the field. Richardson gained the advantage with less than five metres to go, and the US athlete’s acceleration towards the end was extraordinary, as she stopped the clock in a championship record of 10.65, taking 0.02 off Fraser-Pryce’s record set last year in Oregon.
“I’m here. I’m the champion,” she said. “I told you all. I’m not back, I’m better.”
Jackson, who led the earlier parts of the race, came through for silver in 10.72 as Fraser-Pryce, who has had a season disrupted by injuries and has only raced twice, was denied a historic sixth title, and took the bronze in a season’s best of 10.77.
Ivorian Ta Lou, who had recorded 10 wins out of 10 races this season, suffered her second defeat of the evening, finishing fourth in 10.81. With two silvers in 2017 and a bronze in 2019, the 34-year-old – who has been in the form of her life – had hoped that she would become the first female African gold medallist in the 100m, but it was not to be this night.
Such was the depth of the field that six of the nine finalists ran inside 11 seconds. Double NCAA champion Alfred clocked 10.93 in fifth while Swoboda was rewarded with a personal best of 10.97 in sixth position. Brown (10.97), Asher-Smith (11.00) and Tamari Davis (11.03) completed the final.
London 2017 was the last time USA claimed gold in both the men’s and women’s 100m at the World Championships, when Justin Gatlin and the late Tori Bowie set the pace for their rivals. Richardson has no doubt made a statement with her triumph that the US athletes are out to reclaim the event which used to be their domain.
Yemi Olus-Galadima for World Athletics
|WOMEN’S 100m MEDALLISTS
|Sha’Carri Richardson 🇺🇸 USA
|Shericka Jackson 🇯🇲 JAM
|Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce 🇯🇲 JAM
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