Sha’Carri is back, Shelly-Ann never left: Women’s 100 is the race to watch at track worlds
BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — When she stamped her name on the long, illustrious list of American sprint champions earlier this summer, Sha’Carri Richardson also set the stakes for the year ahead of her and the rest of the fast pack of 100-meter runners she’s going against.
“I’m not back. I’m better,” she declared.
Whether that is good enough to win gold medals starting this week at the world championships, then again less than 12 months from now at the Paris Olympics, comes down to whether she can finish in front of defending and five-time world champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and the Jamaican’s teammate, Shericka Jackson.
Jackson has the world’s best time this year (10.65 seconds), but has lost to Richardson in their only two head-to-head matchups in 2023. Fraser-Pryce is trying to match pole vaulter Sergey Bubka’s record for world titles in one individual event. Also in the mix is Marie-Josée Ta Lou of the Ivory Coast, who joins Richardson and Jackson as the three women to crack 10.8 this year.
Two years after being denied a spot in the Olympics after testing positive for marijuana, Richardson will line up at her first major competition when the 100-meter heats start Sunday. The meet itself begins Saturday with the early round of the men’s 100, where Fred Kerley defends his title and a strong roster of American runners try to repeat last year’s podium sweep.
In many ways, this year’s meet is a preview of what to expect when many of the same athletes take to the track at the Stade de France in Paris. Missing, however, will be one of the sport’s brightest stars. Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone, who skipped the 400-meter hurdles this season to run in the 400 flat, withdrew from the worlds because of a nagging knee injury. Her target is Paris, though it’s still a mystery as to which events she’ll run.
The women’s 100 record — a 35-year-old mark of 10.49 owned by the late Florence Griffith-Joyner — has been thought to be in jeopardy ever since Jamacia’s Elaine Thompson ran 10.54 in 2021, about two weeks after winning her second Olympic title.
Griffith-Joyner’s husband, coaching great Al Joyner, said he’s noticed sprinters studying Flo-Jo’s old videos, looking for clues.
“It may click where they execute right and you’re going to see somebody go 10.48 or 10.3,” Joyner said. “It’s going to click for somebody, to the point of saying, ‘Oh, wow’ — because of the level of all the sprinters is out that are running so fast.”