Sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson’s return to the track after not being allowed to compete at the Tokyo Olympics did not go as she had hoped, but she stressed that she’s “not done.”
Richardson finished last in a field of nine runners in the 100 meters and withdrew from the 200 meters at the Prefontaine Classic on Saturday in Eugene, Oregon. Her time of 11.14 seconds in the 100 was well behind winner Elaine Thompson-Herah, the Olympic gold medalist from Jamaica who clocked 10.54 seconds for the second-fastest women’s time in history.
“It was a great return back to the sport,” Richardson said in an NBC interview after Saturday’s race. “I wanted to be able to come and perform having a month off. … Not upset at myself at all. This is one race. I’m not done. You know what I’m capable of.
“Count me out if you want to. Talk all the s— you want, ’cause I’m here to stay. I’m not done. I’m the sixth-fastest woman in this game, ever. And can’t nobody ever take that from me. Congratulations to the winners. Congratulations to the people that won, but they’re not done seeing me yet. Period.”
The Diamond League race at Hayward Field was heralded as Richardson’s return to the sport, as well as a showdown against the Jamaicans that many had hoped to see in Japan.
The 21-year-old Richardson accepted a 30-day ban after testing positive for a chemical found in marijuana after her victory in the 100-meter finals at the Olympic trials on June 19. Her title was stripped and she was left off the roster for the Tokyo Games by USA Track & Field.
After she received the ban, Richardson said the stress of her biological mother’s death combined with the pressure of preparing for the Olympic trials led her to use the drug.
“This last month was a journey for me, but that’s no excuse, because at the end of the day I’m an athlete,” Richardson told reporters. “Today was a day, but it’s not every day. It’s not the end of the world. And like I say, if you count me out, jokes on you.”
Thompson-Hera on Saturday bested her Olympic gold-medal winning time in the 100 with the fastest time in the world this year. The finish was second all-time only to Florence Griffith Joyner’s record of 10.49 seconds set in 1988.
“I’m a little bit surprised because I’ve not run that fast in five years and I actually ran fast at the championships,” Thompson-Herah said. “But to come back here after two weeks to run another personal best is a really amazing.”
In a repeat of the medal stand from the Tokyo Games, fellow Jamaicans Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Shericka Jackson finished second and third, respectively.
Richardson was scheduled to run in the 200-meter final but opted to withdraw from that race before the 100 meters, meet officials confirmed. The 200 was won by Mujinga Kambundji of Switzerland.
Allyson Felix, who became the United States’ most decorated Olympian this summer in Japan, finished at the back of the field in the 200 but was treated to a warm reception by the crowd.
“That’s really the reason that I came, just to say ‘thank you’ and gratitude,” Felix said. “There was so much love leading up to the trials, and it was so intense, and to come back off that here, I just wanted to show my appreciation.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.