For the reigning 400m World Champion, this weekend’s National Track and Field Championships hold a historic significance, “this is the first step in order to fulfill that dream in order to be able to compete in the two, four in Daegu.”
Two-Time Olympic Gold medalist Sanya Richards-Ross is one of the nation’s fastest currently assembled at Track Town USA in Eugene, OR for the opportunity to represent the USA at the 2011 World Championships this August in Daegu, Korea. Being the 400m defending World Champion, Richards-Ross is afforded automatic entry in the 400m, but for the 26 year old American Record holder, there is an even greater opportunity, “This is my fifth world championship and the four I’ve been to prior, it wasn’t even possible for a female to the double as they overlapped. I am excited. I know if myself or Allyson [Felix] can accomplish this, it’s going to go down in history as one of the greatest feats on the women’s side.”
Understanding her 2011 season returning from injury has been proven to be more difficult than anticipated, the two-time IAAF Athlete of The Year acknowledges securing a place on the 200m team as well will be a highly contested one based on the ultra-competitive women’s sprint class performances thus far this season.
The threat of reigning 200m World Champion Allyson Felix competing in the 400m is nothing new but “I feel that I need to get back to where I used to be and so the challenge [of Felix] definitely seems a bit more intense now then in the past” stated Richards-Ross, “It’s going to be very exciting to see the two of us duel along with the other great athletes in the events.” Both Ross and Felix have raced three times this season in Rome’s Golden Gala and The Prefontaine Classic with Felix getting the better of the two on all three occasions.
Three weeks removed from her last race at the very same Hayward Field where she anxiously awaits the possibility of a double, the Austin, TX native explains “I always feel that my 400 training also helps the 200 and so I have used some of the time to improve my speed and prepare for the difference in the 200.” And with those precious three weeks of preparation she believes, “running some fast 200s right now is exactly what I need to improve my 400s . . . and hopefully to run under 22.5, I think will set me up for where I want to be in the 400s.”
With a fast Hayward track and stiff competition, a 200m time below 22.5 is certainly where Richard-Ross will have to be secure a top three finish to make the dream of two, four double in Daegu a reality for herself and long time coach Clyde Hart. “I think for myself and for Coach Hart it would be such a dream come true. I really, really hope I can accomplish it.”
And should the world class sprinter accomplish the feat, it would come as somewhat of a surprise to experts who have all but ruled her out of a top three finish based on this season’s performances thus far. When asked if she had a surprise of own in store, Richards-Ross replied, “Absolutely! I couldn’t believe I wasn’t in the top three. But I definitely respect the athletes that are ahead of me and they definitely deserve to be on the team, but you can’t take [the form chart] to the bank and cash it.”
Sanya Richards-Ross, or as her long time friend and 400m hurdler Bershawn Jackson references her, S-Money, has long been “money” on the track and when asked about the lessons learned of this season she states “stay true to the path. I have to really hold my head down and just be patient because I do know that my best is still yet to come.”
And should that best be a victory this weekend in the women’s 200m securing a spot on both the 200 and 400 teams, Richards-Ross laughs “I’ll wear my bullet chain and some gold spikes.”