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Sha'Carri Richardson gets lots of attention. How good is she really?
That she's an incredible sprinting package is obvious; that she and others are being carefully groomed may not be
Something about American sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson, slated to compete tomorrow at the Los Angeles Grand Prix, makes her broadly appealing to track-and-field fans. She’s not shy in interviews, whether she wins or finishes dead last. She’s not shy on social media and has been notably adventurous as an airline passenger. She’s most renowned, so far, for winning the 100-meter dash at the 2020 U.S. Olympic Trials, but then missing the idiotically delayed Tokyo Olympics the following summer owing to what NBC announcer Sanya Richards-Ross called “poor choices.”
I couldn’t find “poor choices” on the banned-substances list on the website of the World Anti-Doping Assocation (WADA), but it turns out Richardson received a thirty-day ban for the having THC in her system, meaning she almost certainly blazed up on the day of the Olympic Trials 100-meter dash final and throughout the competition. I watched the 2016 Prefontaine Classic high as a kite, and I swear it made both Mo Farah’s drug-enhanced form more beautiful and the smell of Eugene, Oregon almost tolerable. But as a sprinter, I believe I would choose to go without until my races were over.
Richardson is black and apparently gay, and—unlike the Wokish people with one pinky-toe dipped in running-fandom who unconditionally support her on the basis of these traits alone—she not only says she won’t take any shit, she actually doesn’t. White cowardly gals live vicariously through her naturally unflinching persona.
At a pure sporting level, Richardson rose to world-class status four years ago. As a true freshman competing for Louisiana State University, the 19-year-old won the 2019 Division I NCAA 100-meter title (10.75) and placed second in the 200 meters (22.17). Both marks were under-20 world records, and Richardson became the first woman in history to run under 10.80 and 22.20 on the same day. Within the week, the Dallas native had signed a pro contract with Nike.
Her coach is Dennis Mitchell. In 2014, a writer for a very different New York Times ripped USA Track and Field for naming Mitchell—suspended for using testosterone in 1998—the sprint coach of the American contingent at that spring’s I.A.A.F. World Relays. Mitchell had initially made up a colorful beer-and-sex excuse for his positive test, but as the NYT piece explains, in 2008, he implicated himself, Trevor Graham, Marion Jones, and other in the sprinting world while testifying under oath.
Also, while I’m not sure I even need to explain this anymore here, when a world-class sprinter is suspended for a short time for using something the entire world understands is banned but not performance-enhancing, it’s a distraction. Most casual track fans and even a few “serious” ones are easily fooled into not seeing the long-game strategy in play with such hijinks.
Mitchell understands what it takes to be the best. How is his guidance working so far? If I understand the translation of “meh” correctly, that’s probably close. While it would be perhaps unfair to observe that Richardson has been coasting on that one sterling collegiate performance ever since, she hasn’t really gotten any better.
Below are the ten best official, non-wind-aided performances of Richardson’s career, per World Athletics points. Since 2019, she has essentially been a 10.75-second 100-meter performer on a good day in neutral conditions. Good enough to contend for the win in almost any race; not good enough to win an Olympic medal or break the world record of 10.49, set in 1988 by Florence Griffith-Joyner under dubious conditions that would be difficult to replicate precisely.
But Richardson is also only 23 and—this is important—being groomed to serve as the American woman who challenges the venerated Jamaicans over, say, the next two Olympiads in the quest to claim the world record in the sport’s most visible event. (Richardson has named Flo-Jo—as noted for her nails, paint, and photogenic qualities as she was for her skills even at the peak of her career—as an inspiration.)
Wikipedia is now owned and operated by the same propagandists who control information generally, and is basically a huge glossary of laughable horseshit when it comes to covid, Ukraine, or anything culture-war related. A massive and dispersed army of blue-haired mouth-breathers is poised at all times to remove accurate information about the side effects of the covid “vaccines,” lie about transgender issues, and sanitize the pages of anyone “of color” who died in the hands of the law, no matter how many times the person ran afoul of it.
Richardson’s “Wokepedia” page basically says that everyone agrees it was a huge injustice that she missed the Tokyo Olympics no matter what the rules about smoking weed dictate. It suggests that everyone in America thinks these rules are asinine, and that while people exist abroad who disagree, we can all safely say, “Fuck those backward thinkers.”
The notable element of this isn’t that Wikipedia engages in the selective demonization of people and behaviors, and has resulted in countless capable, earnest researchers being labeled “disinformation spreaders” by people who require drool bibs and anti-masturbation mittens during their rare and unwilling public appearances. It’s what the pattern—also seen in NBC’s decision to essentially conceal why Richardson was suspended in 2021—represents: An anointing.
Google even identifies Richardson as an Olympic athlete despite her never having competed in an Olympic Games.
Just as American Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone, also 23, is slated to rule the 400 meters and the 400-meter intermediate hurdles for the next five or even ten years, and ditto Athing Mu in the 800 meters, Richardson has been chosen to update the world record the 100-meter dash while keeping a U.S. flag next to it. This may have been the role Nike, USATF, and the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) had in play for Shelby Houlihan in the middle distances until an overly conscientious anti-doping specialist in Montreal ignored a quietly distributed memo or something. I believe that a lot of Shelbo’s “I was wronged” yammering was accurate in context; sure, she was dirty, but so are all her competitors and most of her teammates. Why single out an American record holder still on the ascendancy?
Of course, this isn’t the kind of defense athletes are advised to drop publicly. So a burrito it was, and the episode was transformed from a straightforward case of intentional doping into a sick joke. The episode reinforced just how many incredibly stupid, slimy, and unethical people now consider themselves informed running fans, and how great it would be if Hayward Field were simply incinerated on a quit December evening when most of the rats responsible for it are off in their lavish nests.
The point of this digression is that Sha’Carri Richardson, who fully believes she is free to be herself, is a piece of equipment in Nike’s and the media’s eyes. She is a vehicle for making Nike and “America” look good. As long as she colors within certain broad behavioral lines, she’ll be protected.
I don’t think she has the talent to run under 10.50, but she might. And I kind of hope she does. Because the other side of this is that if she doesn’t play her role well, Nike will discard her like trash. In ten years, if she doesn’t have an Olympic medal or two, or maybe even if she does, none of the people managing her career now will give one fuck how she’s doing in life. The company has an extensive record of the raw commoditization of human capital, and has no incentive to change because they’re too fucking good at fooling even people who start peeking under the hood.
Godpeed, Sha’Carri. You’ll need it.