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Sha’Carri Richardson sprints to World Championships upset in Budapest

Richardson’s late surge shocked Jamaica’s superstars and continues a comeback story with a world title at 100 meters.

The final meters provided a storybook finish for world champion Sha’Carri Richardson in Budapest Monday
Photo by JEWEL SAMAD/AFP via Getty Images

Sha’Carri Richardson was on the outside looking in for the 2021 Olympics.

Monday at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary, she was in the fray in the women’s 100-meter final.

She came to slay from the far outside lane.

Her surge past Jamaica’s Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Shericka Jackson in the final 20 meters gave the 23-year-old American her first world championship in a flying 10.65 seconds. Her effort broke the event record previously held by Fraser-Pryce, who was third. Jackson, at 10.72 seconds, was a shocked second place.

The gold medal is more astounding given the road she’s travelled since a drug suspension after winning at the U.S. Olympic Trials in 2021 that kept her out of the Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Richardson’s hair was bright orange on the day she won at trials in Oregon two summers ago. “My girlfriend said [the color] spoke to her... so loud and vibrant,” she said afterwards. The Texan had come out publicly as bi in a tweet back in 2015.

At last year’s USATF Nationals, she was eliminated in the first round of the 100 meters and missed a bid at the World Championships.

Day 3 - World Athletics Championships Budapest 2023
Richardson, arms aloft, stunned Jackson and Fraser-Pryce to win her first World Championship gold medal
Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images

She returned to form to get to these championships, but a rough start in the semifinals just two hours earlier left her sweating out qualifying by her time in the semis to reach the final.

She ended up being the first 100-meter champion, men’s or women’s, to win a world title after needing to qualify on time to make the final.

The start looked like yet another Jamaican 1-2 with Jackson, fastest in 100 in the world this year, leading Fraser-Pryce, the 5-time world champion in the event. Richardson was fifth at the starter’s gun but quickly made up the distance and overtook the Jamaicans with arms aloft at the tape.

The joy on her face said it all. Draped in a U.S. flag, smile beaming, she made good and what she had said at the national championships in July, “I’m not back. I’m better.”