Sanya Richards running in the 400 meter heats, photo by PhotoRun.net.
The 400 meters is the cruelest master. Science tells us that the human body can run all out about 250-275 meters, and perhaps, if one is trained well, one could reach 300 meters. That leaves one hundred lonely, cruel meters, and as your arms refuse to respond and your legs beg you to stop, the athlete counts the meters, fifty, forty, thirty...
Sanya Richards knows this, and has looked frustration in the eye, and finally, after three long, tough years, Sanya Richards is a global champion! Here is how I saw it:
Sanya Richards had a tough 2007 and 2008. In 2007, Sanya had gotten ill and did not make the 400 meter team for the U.S. She had to watch Christine Ohuruogu of Great Britian and Nicola Saunders of Great Britain take the gold and silver medals at 400 meters. In 2008, Sanya Richards made the final, but was caught by the 2007 World Champion, Christine Ohuruogo in the stretch and took the bronze.
This year, Sanya has been revitalized. She has had the world leader all year, she won the US title and she has run very, very smart.
In the rounds, Sanya Richards ran well and did not make any mistakes.
In the final, Sanya Richards went out well, and lead the entire way. But, different from before, she ran with her coach, Clyde Hart, on her ear. Sanya hit the 200 meters in the lead, and then, that beautiful, long stride and those pumping arms took her from 200 meters to 300 meters, and she was in control.
Running down the final hundred meters, Sanya Richards looked in control as she hit the line, winning her first global title, in a world leading 49.00! Shericka Williams of Jamaica ran her personal best, taking the silver in 49.32. In third, Antonina Krivoshapka of Russia ran a 49.71 for the bronze. Novlene Williams-Mills of Jamaica was fourth in 49.77 and 2007 World Champ, 2008 Olympic champ, Christine Ohuruogu of Great Britian was relegated to fifth in 50.21, her seasonal best.
Debbie Dunn of the US was sixth in 50.35, Anatasiya Kapachinskaya of Russia was seventh in 50.53 and Amantle Monsho of Botswana was eighth in 50.65.
As Sanya Richards hit the finish line, she leaped into the air! Her smile was real, as the
pressure on her, and it was huge, to deliver a world or global championship went away. Sanya Richards showed, once again, that hard work, patience, focus and a few tough years make the success she is feeling tonight even more special. Such is the human condition. We learn more from our failures than our successes, and Sanya Richards won the 400 meter global title, her first, the old fashioned way--she earned it!
We will finish with Sanya's own words: " You are awesome (to the audience). To come here and win the race, it means the world to me. Finally, I have my own major title! Finally, the hard work has paid off and I also achieved a WL, great! I felt very confident, I hit my marks in the rounds. Before, I had difficulties standing the pressure. But now, I am a better athlete."
For more on our sport, please click on http://www.runningnetwork.com