Beloved track athlete and self-proclaimed “that girl” Sha’Carri Richardson was born in the millennium, but she’s been through enough in her short, albeit heroic lifetime to make even the toughest athletes weary. Last year, her mother passed away while she was preparing for the Olympics. And after securing her spot on Team USA (despite grieving an all-too-fresh loss), she received a 30-day suspension from the USADA and was excluded from USA’s Track and Field Olympic roster after testing positive for marijuana. She explained that she had used it to cope with the loss of her mother, but no one listened. This made her the subject of relentless ridicule and online trolling, exaggerated by a special set of incels upset that Richardson be allowed to exist and compete as a queer Black woman. Then, last week, her ex-girlfriend confirmed allegations that she had physically abused Richardson.
But Richardson does not know limits nor does she ever stand still, and this past weekend, she placed second in the Prefontaine Pre Classic 100-meter race, improving seven places from last year’s race and doing so in a bright pink sparkling suit and a perfect fucking tiara headpiece.
Jamaican Olympic gold medalist Elaine Thompson-Herah just barely edged out Richardson in the 100-meter dash in 10.79 seconds, with Richardson clocking in at 10.92. Previously dubbed an “underdog,” that sort of result alone is enough to shush the racist edgelords who take offense at Sha’Carri’s unwavering confidence.
Richardson showed up at the University of Oregon’s Hayward Field looking, as always, like a warrior queen in a low-cut sprinter suit that she bedazzled herself, with a gold chain around her waist and gems dotted across her torso. To top it all off, she wore a headpiece, as if to signal that she would eventually retake her rightful place on the throne. And she did just that, despite the headpiece flying off halfway through the race, stepping right back into Olympic contention. She also did not speak to reporters after the race, according to ESPN, even after her “first sub-11 second mark” since last year’s trials.
The world championships are just two months away, and it seems that last year’s guffaw (by no fault of her own, and by every fault of archaic governing bodies that often extend white athletes the benefit of the doubt, while knocking Black athletes at every turn) has not deterred Richardson from shining. On top of the incessant chatter and not-so-subtle racism constantly pelted at her, as The Root reported, Richardson also revealed that she had been healing from an abusive relationship with another woman athlete prior to the race. “I was in a relationship with a Jamaican athlete that never cared about me from jump,” she wrote in an Instagram Story in mid-May. “I was abused and stole from yet protected her from the judgment of her country & family while they dragged me. I had to deal with homophobic and so much more that I’m still healing from.”
The 24-year-old Janeek Brown, a Jamaican track star, recently went live on Instagram where she identified herself as the woman Richardson referred to and confirmed the abuse.
“I admit I was abusive once that there is physical evidence of…And we moved on…I was trying to move on and we still got nowhere,” Brown said.
For Richardson to make a comeback like she did this week is a feat of its own. She’s overcome death, racism, domestic abuse, homophobia, and has had her appearance and body poked and criticized as part of the larger sexualization of Black women. As pointed out by Ms. Magazine, her subsequent wrist-slapping by the media was reminiscent of how institutions treated Florence Griffith-Joyner, who was called a “glamourpuss” for her “four-inch, tiger-striped nails” during the 1988 Olympic trials.
Now, at 22-years-old, we can’t just let Sha’Carri run. We have to let her run as herself: ultra-feminine, muscular, tattooed, and with her hair however she fucking pleases. She told us from the very beginning she was “that girl.” It’s hilarious to think anyone ever had any doubt.