Even though she’s just getting started, track star Sha’Carri Richardson is already one of the most talked about athletes in recent memory.
Born in Dallas, Texas, the sprinter instantly rose to fame in June 2021 following her impressive victory in the 100-meter race at the U.S. Olympic track and field trials. Her 10.86 time instantly had people talking, with the only time faster than her’s belonging to track icon Florence Griffith Joyner. Still, it was her charming personality and signature style that really had people falling in love with Sha’Carri.
Earlier this week, Richardson’s Olympic dreams came to a possible halt after she tested positive for THC, a chemical found in marijuana. She was hit with a 30-day suspension and her results from the Olympic trials were disqualified. But, while her suspension will stretch beyond the beginning of the Tokyo Olympics, there’s still a possibility she could compete in the 100-meter relay race.
Celebrities and fans immediately rallied behind Richardson, hating that her dreams were squashed over a substance that’s now legal in most states. Regardless of this year’s outcome, it’s clear that Sha’Carri is quickly becoming a household name, so she’s gonna be around for a while.
Check out 5 things you should know about the track star.
1. Her biggest inspirations are Wilma Rudolph and Florence Griffith Joyner
While her grandmother is one of her biggest inspirations off the field, she’s got other women to look up to in her sport--including Flo-Jo, who also sported long nails. “If the amazing Flo-Jo had long nails, there was no excuse why I couldn’t have long nails,” she told AP.
“Those two were the mix of the athlete I wanted to be,” she said of Wilma Rudolph and Florence Griffith Joyner
2. There’s a reason behind her hair color
According to Richardson, she picks her hair color depending on her mood and what she wants to represent. Or, sometimes, her girlfriend picks for her.
“It means to stand out so I am visible and able to be seen,” she told the Orange County Register when speaking about the yellow-orange shade she rocked for the Olympic trials. “My girlfriend picked this color because it’s loud and, honestly, dangerous. She said you need to look the best and be the best.”
3. She was raised by her grandmother
Sha’Carri Richardson grew up with her grandmother, Betty Harp, and her aunt. She learned of her birth mother’s death from a reporter, who told her about it during an interview just days before the trials were set to begin.
“My grandmother is my heart, my grandmother is my superwoman,” she said following the Olympic trials in June. “To be able to have her here, at the biggest meet of my life and being able to run up the steps and knowing that I’m an Olympian now. ... Honestly, that probably felt better than winning the race itself.”
4. She has mentioned that she is queer on social media.
In the aforementioned quote, Sha’Carri thanked her girlfriend for picking out her hair color, which seemed to confirm that she was part of the LGBTQ community--though her declaration was very low key.
While she hasn’t confirmed her sexuality in any interviews since she’s risen to fame, she tweeted back in 2015, “my family know I’m bi.” Over the course of the past month, she’s posted about Pride multiple times.
5. She is one of the fastest women in history
In April 2021, Richardson ran the 100-meter in 10.72 seconds, making her the sixth fastest woman of all time and the fourth fastest American woman of all time.
When she was just 19, she ran the 100-meter in 10.75 seconds during the 2019 NCAA championships, becoming one of the 10 fastest women in the world as a teenager.