Sha’Carri Richardson has been handed a one-month ban after testing positive for a banned substance ahead of the Tokyo Olympics. Prior to that, she was the third-fastest woman in history.
Her semifinal sprint of 10.64 at the recently concluded US Olympic Trials 2021 made her a strong contender for gold at the Tokyo Olympics. But with Richardson out of the Games, the focus will shift to Jamaica, who are likely to take all three medals.
Sha’Carri Richardson had failed the drug test following her Tokyo Olympic qualifying 100m race victory on June 19. The American sprinter tested positive for marijuana.
The United States Anti-Doping Agency issued a statement calling the incident as “unfortunate”. They also confirmed Sha’Carri Richardson’s performance at Hayward Field, Oregon, stands disqualified.
"Richardson’s competitive results obtained on June 19, 2021, including her Olympic qualifying results at the Team Trials, have been disqualified, and she forfeits any medals, points, and prizes," a statement from the USADA said.
With Sha’Carri Richardson out of the Tokyo Olympics, the dynamics of the race have also changed. Jamaica is now dubbed heavy favorites to win the 100m women's in Tokyo.
Why is Jamaica the favorite for Top 3 finish at Tokyo Olympics?
When Shelly Ann-Fraser-Pryce of Jamaica finished third at the Rio Olympics, losing her title to Elaine Thompson, it was believed that the mantle had passed. But the two-time Olympic champion came back stronger and faster post-partum.
She clocked 10.63 on June 5, to become the fastest woman on the planet and second fastest behind legendary Florence Griffith Joyner.
Incidentally, both Fraser and Thompson will be competing for the women’s 100m title at the Tokyo Olympics. Sha’Carri Richardson was amongst the medal contenders and a serious challenge to Fraser, the Queen.
As per the fastest timings this year, Jamaica has three sprinters, all Tokyo Olympics-bound, in the top 5.
Fraser leads the table, while Shericka Jackson is third with a 10.77 she clocked on June 25. Current Olympic champion Thompson is placed fourth with a 10.78 on the clock.
The three Jamaican sprinters will start as the favorites to finish in the top three, with Fraser eyeing Griffith’s 10.49s world record.
Interestingly, Jamaica has always been amongst the favorites for a podium finish at the Tokyo Olympics.
Why does Jamaica produces so many champion sprinters?
Simply put it’s the yams!
According to some research, Jamaica’s staple crops – the green banana and yam – are said to be partially responsible for the country dominating the sprint events.
Of course, there is more to it than just yams. There are other theories that explain Jamaican sprinters have high amount of testosterone, while some suggest the body shape of the athletes as the reason.
However, Yohan Blake, the 2012 London Olympics silver medalist, had a simple answer to it. He says it is the struggle during the early years which is the driving force. He said:
“I think the way I was brought up (helped me become successful). We were very, very poor. We had to work ourselves out of poverty. Education was not the way to do it. It was just sports. So, it was just natural."
Whatever the theory, Jamaica is once again set to dominate the sprint event at the Tokyo Olympics, slated to start from July 23.