Sanya Richards-Ross (USA) wins the women’s 400m in 49.39 at the 2012 Prefontaine Classic at Hayward Field. (Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE)

400m runner’s indoor exploits suggests she’s on the right track

By Phil Minshull, Special to Universal Sports

Just over a week ago, Sanya Richards-Ross celebrated her 27th birthday by becoming the first woman this year to run under 51 seconds when she won at the USA Indoor Championships in an indoor personal best of 50.71.

Sure, the altitude of the Albuquerque Convention Center is around 1500m and certainly helped her to the super-fast time which put her third on the U.S. Indoor all-time list but there is no denying that Richards-Ross is in great shape.

She will go to the Turkish city of Istanbul this week bidding for her first World Indoor Championships gold medal and any disappointment at not improving on Francena McCorory’s American record of 50.54, set two years ago in Fayetteville, will certainly be assuaged if she gets a gold medal on Saturday

However, Richards-Ross has never forgotten that the big goal of the year is to triumph at the Olympic Games in London this summer.

She has unfinished business as far as the Olympics are concerned. In 2008, she had been unbeaten over one lap of the track prior to arriving in Beijing, with nine straight victories.

Once in the Chinese capital, the world number one for the three previous years breezed through the heats and semi-finals; the only question seemed to be who would get the silver medal behind her. Many bookmakers had even stopped taking bets on whether she would win.

However, the Track and Field News headline summed up the story of the race, “Ohuruogu roars and Richards fades.”

Richards, as she was then before her marriage two years ago to New York Giants cornerback Aaron Ross, lead off the final bend but unraveled with the line in sight. She slipped back to third as the inspired British runner Christine Ohuruogu got the plaudits that could have been hers.

“I got to about 320 meters, I knew I had about 70 meters to go and my right hamstring grabbed on me. I tried to hold them off, I just couldn’t. I’m so disappointed, I knew that gold was mine,” Richards-Ross reflected bitterly at the time.

She went on to play her part in the U.S gold medal-winning 4x400m relay quartet at the last Olympics and she won at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin but her relative failure in Beijing, with her disappointment evident for all the world to see on the medal podium, still stings.

“I really want to win my first individual (Olympic) gold medal, so I’m working really really hard to stay consistent this season and hopefully run really fast when it counts,” said Richards-Ross in Albuquerque.

A win in London would also give Richards-Ross a few bragging rights at home. Her husband added a second Super Bowl ring to his own collection of honors last month.

“I’m very proud of what he’s achieved, now it’s my turn to bring back the medals,” added Richards-Ross.