Who Is Sha’carri Richardson? Meet The Sprinter Lighting Up Track + Field

At Marathon Handbook, we love to highlight the profiles of some of the most notable runners making waves in the running scene. 

For this reason, we can’t help but be wholly impressed with Sha’carri Richardson, who is arguably one of the fastest women in history.

But, who is Sha’carri Richardson? How fast is Sha’carri Richardson? How old is Sha’carri Richardson? What are Sha’carri Richardson’s running achievements?

In this article, we will provide a thorough profile of superstar track sprinter Sha’carri Richardson to help inspire you to test your own speed and run your heart out at every single race.

We will cover the following: 

  • Who Is Sha’carri Richardson?
  • Sha’carri Richardson’s Early Running Career
  • Sha’carri Richardson’s Professional Running Career
  • Where Is Sha’carri Richardson’s Running Career Now?

Let’s dive in! 

Sha'carri Richardson

Who Is Sha’carri Richardson?

Sha’Carri Richardson (pronounced shə-KERR-ee) is an American sprinter who competes in the 100 meters and 200 meters.

Now just 23 years old, Sha’carri Richardson rose to prominence during her freshman year at Louisiana State University in 2019.

There, she ran a blazing 10.75 seconds in the 100m dash at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships.

Not only did this set a new collegiate record for the 100m dash, but her winning time also earned her a spot as one of the ten fastest women in history despite her young age of only 19 years old.

Sha’carri Richardson decided to go pro and continued to get faster.

Sha'carri Richardson competing.

In April 2021, she set a new personal record (PR) for the 100 m sprint with a time of 10.72 seconds.

This improvement jumped her up to the sixth-fastest woman of all time (at the time) and the fourth-fastest American woman in history.

But, things have not always been smooth sailing from a running career standpoint for Sha’carri Richardson.

For the 2020 US Olympic trials, Sha’carri Richardson took first place, which technically qualified her for the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo (which were postponed until 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic).

However, on July 1 of that year—following her 100m final at the U.S. Trials—Sha’carri Richardson tested positive for cannabis, a substance banned by the Olympic committee and World Anti-Doping Association.

This rendered Richardson ineligible to compete in the event at the 2020 Olympic Games.

However, she took it on the chin and fulfilled the requirements to regain eligibility by successfully completing a counseling program and honoring a one-month period of ineligibility that began on June 28, 2021.

A track.

Sha’carri Richardson’s Early Running Career

Although Sha’carri Richardson’s first major stand-out performance came in 2019 as a freshman in college, she had already proven her prowess for incredible leg speed on the track in her adolescence.

For example, in 2016, at just 16 years old, Sha’Carri Richardson won the 100m sprint at the AAU Junior Olympics, which is the largest national track and field (and multisport) event for youth in the United States.

One year later, she ran her first international race at the 2017 Pan American U20 Athletics Championships.

There, alongside her teammates, Gabriele Cunningham, Rebekah Smith, and Tara Davis, Sha’carri Richardson won gold in the 4×100 m relay representing the United States.

After being recruited to attend Louisiana State University, Richardson was a finalist in the 60-meter dash at the 2019 NCAA Division I Indoor Championships during her first season of indoor track.

People on track blocks.

At just 19 years old, while competing at the 2019 NCAA Division I Outdoor Championships, Sha’carri Richardson executed the second-best female one-day double in history by breaking not one but two world U20 records. 

As mentioned, here she won the 100m in a time of 10.75 seconds, which broke the existing collegiate record for the distance, set by Marlies Göhr, which had stood for a whopping 42 years.

On the same day, Sha’carri Richardson placed second in the 200-meter event, following behind the winner by just one one-hundredth of a second with a time of 22.17 seconds.

This time broke the record of legendary sprinter Allyson Felix who set the then-existing record at the 2004 Athens Olympics. 

Sha’carri Richardson also ran in the 4 × 100 m relay, where her team of the LSU Lady Tigers finished in second place.

Handing off a relay baton.

Sha’carri Richardson’s Professional Running Career

Just four days after the conclusion of the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track Championships, Sha’carri Richardson released a statement that she would be ending her collegiate eligibility, despite having three years left of amateur eligibility, in favor of running professionally.

Sha’carri Richardson is a Nike-sponsored athlete and trains with coach Dennis Mitchell, a former Olympic sprinter.

As mentioned, Sha’carri Richardson won the 2020 US Olympic trials in 2021, breaking the tape in 10.86 seconds for the 100m event.

Her time was a full 0.13 seconds faster than the runner-up, Javianne Oliver.

However, after her urine sample tested positive for THC metabolites, Sha’carri Richardson accepted a one-month suspension by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) that began on June 28, 2021.

A sprinter off the blocks.

Richardson received a lot of backlash for her positive drug test, but it rose to question the entire drug testing policy in sports.

While it is imperative that all athletes compete “clean“ by not using performance-enhancing drugs, cannabis, and THC products do not necessarily fall under the umbrella of “performance-enhancing drugs,” which leads to controversy in the policies surrounding their usage.

At the time, Richardson stated that she took the drug to help cope with the pressure of qualifying for the Olympics while simultaneously mourning the recent passing of her mother.

Many organizations in favor of relaxing cannabis policies were outraged by the suspension. Even U.S. President Joe Biden suggested that drug testing rules and policies for athletes may need to be changed.

Understandably, quite a debate was sparked, as this incident is a microcosm of the controversy and opposing viewpoints surrounding liberalizing and legalizing cannabis usage in the United States.

USADA reportedly pushed back on the criticism by stating that the organization is a signatory to the World Anti-Doping Code and thus has an obligation to enforce WADA rules in the United States. 

Plus, despite more recent shifts in several states legalizing marijuana, USADA asserted that changing cannabis use rules for athletes would likely not be well accepted on a global scale since many countries in the world consider marijuana use a criminal offense.

Two sprinters running off the blocks.

After reflecting on the policies surrounding the prohibited status of cannabis for athletes, the World Anti-Doping Agency would reevaluate the cannabis rules for athletes.

Note that cannabis was initially banned by WADA in 1999, but the “legal limit“ of THC metabolites for athletes increased from 15 ng/mL to 150 ng/mL in 2013.

Due to the timing of the Olympic Games, this made her ineligible to compete in the 100m event for the United States of America. 

Theoretically, Richardson would have been eligible for the Women’s 4 × 100 relay because the event was not scheduled to take place until August 5, 2021. 

Unfortunately, the selection process for the relay events is not as objective as the finishing place, so Sha’carri Richardson was not chosen for the relay team.

Therefore, Sha’carri Richardson did not compete in the 2020 Summer Olympics Games in Tokyo (in 2021).

Track blocks and numbers.

Where Is Sha’carri Richardson’s Running Career Now?

Despite missing the Olympic Games and the drug testing issue in the 2021 track season, Richardson went on to compete again in 2022.

However, she had a bit of an up-and-down year on the track and missed out on the finals of both the 100m and 200m at the 2022 USATF Championships.

Therefore, Sha’carri Richardson’s growing avid fan base of track enthusiasts did not get to see her compete at the 2022 World Athletics Championships in Eugene, Oregon.

Perhaps that further fueled the fire within her to make the 2023 track season her best one yet.

On April 8, 2023, Sha’carri Richardson won the women’s final at the Miramar Invitational. There, Richardson ran an incredible time of 10.57 seconds

Note that this is the fourth fastest time ever run by a woman in all wind conditions, but because there was a strong, illegal 4.1 m/s tailwind, her finish time only counts with the “all weather conditions“ best 100m times lists.

This time is said to convert to 10.77 seconds in still conditions.

In May 2023, Sha’carri Richardson took her first Diamond League victory.

She set a new meet record en route to victory in the 100-meter dash in Doha, finishing in a time of 10.76 seconds.

You can keep up with Richard’s quest to become the fastest woman in history on her Instagram.

A stopwatch.
Photo of author
Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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