Sanya slays her demons, finally

Outpouring of elation, relief for American 400-metre superstar

Sanya Richards

Richards was a popular winner on Tuesday at the 12th World Championships, for the fans seemed to empathise with her position. Having finally climbed the top of the podium to assert her No 1 status in the event, Richards admitted it was a great relief for her to have won a major.

“It just feels so great to hear that I am a world champion, it’s an overwhelming experience,” she said at a press conference after her triumph. “I did struggle in the past and that’s what I wanted to shake off this year. I enjoyed every step around the track today, and I am really thrilled to be a world champion.”

It’s been a tale of missed chances for Richards till Berlin, despite being the number one in her event for the last five years.

She was fourth at the 2004 Olympic Games, second at the Helsinki World Championships in 2005 and didn’t qualify for the 400M at Osaka in 2007. The biggest disappointment came at the Beijing Olympics last year when she faded to third spot after misjudging her pace.

However, she refuted suggestions that her early pace had dashed her chances in Beijing. “I don’t think the first 200 was the reason I lost. Today also I ran a 23-second first 200, almost the same as the Olympics. I controlled the pace today, and once I made the move, I tried to hold off Shericka (Williams).”

The fans at the Olympic Stadium then witnessed another facet of the Richards personality as she did a dance for the cameras.

“The dance is called the Dallas Boogie, a Texas dance. I do it all the time at home. I told my sister and cousin that if I win, I’m going to hit it,” she laughed.

Richards suffers from a disorder called the Behcet’s syndrome that causes ulcers in the mouth and other parts of the body. “It did flare up here, it tends to when I am under stress but I was able to handle it and run the season’s best (49.0 seconds) when it counted,” said Richards, who has a best of 48.70 seconds.

So what next for the world champion? “I can’t say that I am glad to have waited to win a title but sometimes you have to learn as you grow. I would have liked to win in the past, especially at the Olympic Games but I am happy it came in 2009. Hopefully, it’s the first of many titles to come.”

DH News Service

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