Richardson: From Rivalry to Sisterhood in Track and Field

Photo of Sha Carri Richardson's Jamaican rivalry end.

During the 2023 World Athletics Championships, Richardson made a significant gesture towards closing the rivalry gap between Jamaica and America by paying a heartfelt tribute to her Jamaican counterpart.

Following her impressive performance against Fraser-Pryce and Team Jamaica, Richardson addressed the media. In a sincere moment, she acknowledged the age gap between herself and the veteran Fraser-Pryce, stating, “I literally grew up watching her. I just want to say she is an amazing athlete.”

More recently, Sha’Carri Richardson drew attention with her presence at the National Stadium in Kingston, Jamaica, the home country of her rivals, where she was warmly embraced by Jamaican fans and the local track and field community. Social media posts captured Richardson engaging with spectators in the stands, enjoying the lively atmosphere, and celebrating her recent successes.

Notably, track blogger Earl H. Bailey shared on X, “World 100m champion, American Shacarri Richardson, mingled with the fans in the bleachers and had fun at the Jamaica Athletics Invitational in Kingston. Welcome to Speed Street Shacarri!” This positive reception marks a departure from the previous tensions between Richardson and Jamaican sprinters.

Yet, it appears that these rivalries have been put aside, with the Jamaican track community now embracing Richardson as a “sister” owing to their shared Caribbean heritage. A similar demonstration of solidarity between Jamaicans and Americans was visible at the 2023 World Athletics Championships in August, where Sha’Carri Richardson clinched victory in the 100-meter final, setting a championship record with a time of 10.65 seconds. She surpassed her Jamaican rivals Shericka Jackson and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce to secure the gold medal.

Subsequently, fans were treated to a sequence of photos shared by Richardson and Jackson on the Budapest track just before their 200-meter finals. While American supporters enthusiastically cheered on their preferred female sprinter, Richardson also won over Jamaican fans with her reciprocal gesture.

This gesture held particular significance for Richardson following setbacks, where she placed second and third in the Xiamen and Suzhou Diamond League Meetings, respectively.

In 2021, tensions flared in the track and field community between retired Jamaican sprint legend Usain Bolt and the outspoken American athlete Sha’Carri Richardson. Bolt’s counsel to Richardson sparked a verbal dispute following her one-month suspension for testing positive for cannabis, resulting in her disqualification from the U.S. Olympic team.

Bolt advised Richardson to intensify her training, maintain focus, and limit her outspokenness. Richardson’s Instagram response hinted at her determination: “Y’all haven’t even heard the half of me.”

Making a comeback in August 2021 at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Sha’Carri placed last among nine competitors in the 100m, with Jamaica’s Elaine Thompson-Herah clinching victory. Bolt underscored Jamaican pride, asserting, “Jamaicans take offense when others speak negatively about us because we are a deeply proud people… It undoubtedly motivated those women to perform even better.”

American fans are swiftly showing their support for Sha’Carri Richardson on social media, standing up for her skills in track and field whenever there’s skepticism. One notable moment from the event, even though Richardson wasn’t competing in Jamaica, was the warm reception she got from many Jamaican fans who eagerly took pictures with her.

One fan warmly greeted her, saying, “Welcome home, my Jamaican sister, Sha’Carri.” Another fan humorously described the event as a meet and greet, jokingly commenting, “They’re having a Sha’Carri meet and greet at the Jamaican invitational,” as fans gathered around the fastest woman to snap photos in the stands.

This particular fan was surprised to see Sha’Carri regularly at Jamaican meets, acknowledging her history of fostering unity between Jamaica and America, implying that her continued presence isn’t surprising.


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