Sha’Carri Richardson can be celebrated and challenged at the same time

Coming in last sparked plenty of jokes, but that comes with the territory

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Sha’arri Richardson finished last in the Prefontaine Classic Saturday.
Sha’arri Richardson finished last in the Prefontaine Classic Saturday.
Image: AP

You guys love making things so complicated on the internet.

I told you guys a few days ago that Sha’Carri Richardson had a huge opportunity to shut up her haters in the 100m dash at the Prefontaine Classic on Saturday in Eugene, Oregon.

And the fact of the matter is that she didn’t. She lacked pretty badly. She finished last and ran an 11.14, a time that was nowhere near the Olympic trial time of 10.86 she ran in June, or the 10.72 she ran in the spring which turned out to be the sixth-fastest in women’s history.

After her performance, Richardson was still Richardson, confident, direct, and unapologetically herself. She continued to let the world know that she is still that girl.

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As you can imagine the jokes on social media came rapidly. Like every other major athlete who failed to get it done in a big moment, the scrutiny and mockery came in droves.

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Many Black women, both sports fans and non-sports fans, tried to come to the defense of Richardson because they felt the commentary around the 21-year-old was too harsh and mean-spirited. Numerous people felt like she was being targeted because she is a Black woman who says exactly how she feels.

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Honestly, I gained a lot of respect for Richardson on Saturday. It takes a lot of guts to continue to be true to who you are, even in the face of adversity. She could have easily shrunk back into a shell after finishing last, but she didn’t. She stayed consistent and stayed confident in herself in each interview she did with the press following the race. You have to respect that.

But that doesn’t excuse the fact that she needs to get back in the lab. Whatever she did the last month clearly didn’t work. And when you talk as much as she did leading up to this race, you have to back it up, or else the slander will ensue. That goes for any athlete or frankly any human being for that matter.

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This is what comes with the territory of being a brash and unapologetic individual on the world’s biggest stage. And I believe Richardson can handle it.

We have to remember everything she has gone through this year with the passing of her biological mother and the drama around her missing the Olympics. She’ll be able to get back to being an elite sprinter once she’s able to focus on her training.

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Most of us are rooting for her to be successful. Seeing Sha’Carri win a medal in the next world championships or next Olympics (which are less than three years away) would be the ultimate comeback story and a slap in the face to her haters. But the reality is she isn’t there yet, and it’s going to take some more work to back up her talk if she really wants to silence her critics.

As fans, let’s not make this situation too complicated. Richardson can be celebrated for her confidence and self-belief while also being challenged to perform better.