Teleporting through Hayward Field during the track and field Olympic Trials on Saturday, Sha'Carri Richardson looked like a meteor. There was her sheer speed: at just 21, Richardson is currently the fastest woman in the nation, and her time of 10.86 seconds during the 100-meter dash secured her spot on Team USA for the forthcoming Tokyo Olympics starting July 23. But her hair — fiery orange and styled half-up, half-down — contributed to the supernatural showing.
"She just wanted me to be able to make a statement."
Despite prior acclaim, Richardson's postmeet soundbites and glam appearance solidified her as a star. Richardson often sports long lash extensions and longer acrylics, and though she's typically the mastermind behind her ever-changing hair colours, ahead of the incredibly important Trials, she let her girlfriend decide.
"She said it just spoke to her, the fact that it was just so loud and vibrant," Richardson told The Washington Post. "That's who I am. She just wanted me to be able to make a statement — let's continue to show the world I'm a force to be reckoned with."
Fans of the sport won't be surprised to learn that Richardson takes inspiration from Florence Griffith Joyner, who was also known for her statement-making style. Richardson shared photos of Flo-Jo in a 2019 Instagram post and wrote, "Y'all love talking about my hair & my nails like the greatest woman to ever enter the game didn't run in style." She again spoke about the track legend in an Associated Press interview the day before Trials began. "Flo-Jo came to the track and knew she was going to dominate," Richardson said. "The way she did that was graceful. I always liked that. If the amazing Flo-Jo had long nails, there was no excuse why I couldn't have long nails."
With still so much of her athletic career ahead of her, Richardson's path may continue to converge with that of Flo-Jo, the fastest woman of all time. Richardson is currently the sixth-fastest woman of all time, and she's a favourite for the 100-meter event at the Olympics, which Flo-Jo won in 1988. If she were to win, Richardson would be the first American to do so since Gail Devers in 1996.