Top Olympic women 100-meter runners focused on competitors, decline to talk about suspended U.S. sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson

·2 min read

TOKYO — Sha’Carri Richardson’s one-month suspension due to testing positive for marijuana was one of the biggest track and field stories heading into the Olympics. But now that the track and field competition is officially underway in Tokyo, many competitors in the women’s 100 meters have made it clear they want to focus on the task at hand and don’t want to discuss Richardson.

“I don’t want to talk about Sha’Carri (Richardson),” Nigerian sprinter Blessing Okagbare said after her opening round of the women’s 100 meters. “Regardless of who is here and who is not here, we are gonna compete. Everybody here is great as well. I think everybody here is great. Regardless of who is here and not here.”

Jamaica’s Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Elaine Thompson-Herah are the two Olympic favorites in the women’s 100 meters. Fraser-Pryce won her preliminary round heat in 10.84 and Thompson-Herah won her heat at 10.82 to both advance to the semifinals. Following the race, each of the two were asked individually about their thoughts on Richardson’s absence in Tokyo and both responded with “no comment.”

Marie-Josee Ta Lou of the Ivory Coast equaled an African record when she crossed the finish line at 10.78 in the women’s 100 meters. After finishing the opening round with top time, she expressed some empathy for Richardson.

“I was really sad for her, but God knows what he is doing. Maybe I’ll see her in another race, not in the Olympics, but another race,” Ta Lou said.

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Marie-Josee Ta Lou of the Ivory Coast reacts after finishing her heat of the 100-meter dash at Olympic Stadium.
Marie-Josee Ta Lou of the Ivory Coast reacts after finishing her heat of the 100-meter dash at Olympic Stadium.

Most of the women sprinters were mum on Richardson. But the women’s 100-meter field is loaded, even without the top 100-meter runner in the U.S. The fast opening times was one of the biggest takeaways from Day 1 on the track, especially in the women’s 100 meters.

“It’s one round at a time. It’s super competitive 100 meter (field) for the females. So, you want to make sure you focus on each round and the things that you’re supposed to do and allow the rest to take care of itself,” Fraser-Pryce said. “It’s gonna be a super-fast and competitive second round and final.”

Ta Lou, Thompson-Herah and Fraser-Pryce all ran under a 10.85 and had the top three times to advance to the women’s semifinal.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Top Olympic 100m runners decline to talk about Sha’Carri Richardson