Sha’Carri Richardson returned with a bang.
At the US Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Oregon, on Friday, Richardson took the 100-meter title with a time of 10.82 seconds, tossing aside her orange wig before the starting gun went off and earning a berth in next month’s world championships.
“Now, I stand here with you again and I’m ready, mentally, physically and emotionally,” Richardson said in a TV interview.
“I’m here to say, ‘I’m not back — I’m better.'”
Instead of the orange wig, which has become her trademark, Richardson wore natural black braids with a star shaved into the right side of her hair.
Friday marked her highest moment since two years ago when Richardson’s national title was stripped following a positive test for marijuana, which cost her a spot in the Tokyo Olympics.
She completed a counseling program and then accepted a month-long period of ineligibility, despite saying that she took marijuana to cope with the pressure of qualifying for the Olympics and the death of her biological mother.
The suspension prompted outrage from politicians, including a suggestion from President Joe Biden that doping rules governing marijuana be changed.
Richardson struggled in the 2022 US Championships and said afterward that the media “should respect athletes more.”
Then in January 2023, she was kicked off a flight for an altercation with a flight attendant.
For the last couple of months though, there have been signs of her old form.
She ran well in the 100-meter at the Diamond League season opener in Doha, Qatar, in May with a 10.76-second time and was in the same range on Friday, beating out Brittany Brown (10.90) and Tamari Davis (10.99).
Her 10.71-second time in the opening heats was also the best of the year, though that mark quickly fell after Jamaica’s Shericka Jackson won the country’s title with a 10.65-second time.
Jackson and Richardson will be among the favorites at the world championships.