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Athletics-Richardson cruises through 100m heats at US Olympic trials

By Thomson Reuters Jun 21, 2024 | 9:05 PM

(Reuters) – Sha’Carri Richardson made a confident return to the U.S. Olympic trials on Friday, winning her 100 metres heat in 10.88 and taking her first step toward the Paris Games.

The world champion was Tokyo-bound three years ago but a positive test for cannabis saw her Olympic dream come crashing down and the fan favourite was hungry for redemption this time around in Eugene, Oregon.

Richardson was wobbly off the blocks but it scarcely seemed to matter as she exploded through the second half of the race and was all smiles having claimed the fastest time across the opening heats.

“Definitely didn’t have the start that I’ve been training (for),” Richardson said in a televised interview. “But still, not panicking, staying patient and knowing that – no matter what’s going on – to continue to run my race.”

Melissa Jefferson finished with the second-fastest time of the day in 10.91 while McKenzie Long was three-hundredths of a second slower.

The crowd at Hayward Field greeted Richardson to wild applause and the Texan showed little sign of nerves back in the spotlight.

“I am enjoying just the recognition of hard work,” she told broadcaster NBC.

Richardson is also registered for the 200m and will compete next in Saturday’s 100m semi-final round.

The trials kicked off under sweltering conditions, as temperatures hovered around 86 degrees Fahrenheit (30°C) when the evening programme began.

Running her first race in nine months, Olympic champion Athing Mu cruised through the opening heats of the 800m in 2:01.73, while Michaela Rose had the fastest time of the day in 1:59.57.

“I feel like it was just like any other first race for me,” said Mu, who delayed her season debut due to hamstring soreness.

The 2022 world champion Michael Norman jogged through the finish to win his 400m heat in 45.31, keeping his comeback story on track after he struggled last year with injuries.

Budapest bronze medallist Quincy Hall had the fastest overall time with 44.60

Twice 400m hurdles world silver medallist Shamier Little was lethal in the flat event, crossing the finish in 50.13, the fastest time by more than three tenths of a second across the opening heats.

Rio Olympic champion Matthew Centrowitz scratched from the 1,500m citing a hamstring strain.

“Unfortunately, I won’t be having the fairytale ending I was hoping to have this week at my fourth Olympic trials,” he wrote on social media.

(Reporting by Amy Tennery in New York; Editing by Stephen Coates)