Hurdler Jason Richardson explains USA Basketball critique and mystery of ‘ratchet music’

LONDON — Jason Richardson's life is defined by music. His jam of the summer is Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe." Part of his morning routine is pumping gospel tunes into his room at a high volume.

"If I put my iPod on shuffle, I laugh sometimes at the stuff that comes up. I have a nice 'ratchet section.' Musical with a colorful beat," he said.

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U.S. triple jumper Christian Taylor, who had earlier praised the "lullaby for adults" that is country music, asked Richardson for a clarification.

"Yeah, I heard a reference to, uh, 'ratchet' music ..." he said.

"What I would define as quality ratchet music would be music where I can't understand some of the words, but I definitely feel the rhythm of the beat. Whatever kind makes you get up," replied Richardson.

The moderator asked for further clarification.

"So some kind of krunk?" she asked, referencing the ear-splitting Southern hip-hop movement that hit the mainstream about a decade ago.

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Richardson leaned into the mic.


The 26-year-old Texan, with the trademark lengthy dreads, is a top American hope in the 110-meter hurdles, having run a 12.98 in June's Olympic trials — just the 13th man to join the sub-13 second club. He's not the favorite in the event — the honor might go to Liu Xiang of China or Richardson's teammate Aries Merritt — but he's certainly in contention.

"As far as going into this meet, I like where I'm at as far as the predictions," he said. "I'm blessed with the honor of possibly being a medalist, but not being the favorite.

"The only favorite that matters is that my mom thinks I'm going to win. So I'm glad I had one person in my corner."

His path to the Olympics included a controversial finish in last year's world championship race; and Richardson found himself in another flap at the start of the London Games, thanks to social media.

Last year, Richardson won silver in the 110-meter hurdles at the track and field world championships in truly bizarre fashion.

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Cuba's Dayron Robles and China's Xiang, both Olympic gold medalists in the event, were battling near the end of the race when Robles inexplicably reached out and grabbed Xiang's arm. He was disqualified, and Richardson was elevated from the silver to the gold medal.

As Richardson told Vanity Fair:

"We do come into situations where we hit people every now and again," admits the 26-year-old Richardson. "We have so much movement going on in the lane itself that the width of the lane actually matters for us. . . . But the degree of interference is what's at question." He later added: "I wish it would've entailed me coming on top in a clean, drama-free race."

Richardson created a little drama off the track after the Opening Ceremony in London with this tweet:

Whoa, taking on the golden goose.

Richardson was asked about the tweet on Tuesday during a track and field press conference, saying it was a reaction to a blog post he saw that intended to cover the Opening Ceremony but only had photos of the USA Basketball team.

"It kinda made me realize that there are so many different sports that are here, so many athletes making sacrifices, so many stories that wish could have shed more light [on them]," he said.

"Basketball's an amazing sport. I played it in seventh grade."

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Twitter is one of Richardson's calling cards. Found at @JaiRich, it's a collection of insightful commentary and occasional silliness. He feels it's a way for the athletes playing in the shadow of LeBron and Kobe to create a following during the Games.

"Social media, on an individual level, is something that could help. If you follow me on Twitter, you can see that I'm actually a normal human being," he said.

Well, a normal human being that's a sub-13:00 hurdler, with a chance to medal in London with record time.

"This is going to arguably be the fastest Olympic final that we've had in the 110-meter hurdles. Whoever wins is probably going to set a world record. Whoever crosses the tape is going to make history," Richards said.

"I would love to be that person."

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