Richards won the 2008 Olympic Trials and led the 400-meter final in Beijing before fading to a third-place finish. She had to come from behind as the anchor runner of the U.S. 4 x 400-meter relay team, catching Russia's Anastasiya Kapachinskaya in the final 100 meters to lead the U.S. to the gold medal. She remained the dominant 400-meter woman in 2009, winning her first individual World Championship gold medal.
Her favorite year:
Richards enjoyed a brilliant 2006 season, highlighted by her U.S. 400-meter record-setting performance of 48.70 seconds at the IAAF World Cup in Athens. Richards won 15 consecutive 400-meter races that year, posted the world’s five best times and earned the 2006 Jesse Owens Award and the IAAF World Athlete of the Year honor.
Born in Jamaica, Richards’ family moved to Fort Lauderdale, Florida when she was 12. At the time of the 2008 Olympics Sanya was engaged to New York Giants cornerback Aaron Ross, who she met when both attended the University of Texas. A participant in USA Track & Field’s “Be a Champion” program, Richards has worked with young people in several communities and won the Visa Humanitarian Athlete of the Year award in 2005.
Prior to 2009, Richards’ world championship victories had all come via the 4 x 400 relay, where she earned gold medals at the 2007 and 2003 World Outdoor Championships and the 2004 and 2008 Olympics. She placed second in the 2005 World Championships in the 400. She won four NCAA championships at Texas, winning the indoor 400 in an NCAA-record 50.82 seconds in 2004 and the outdoor 400 in 2003, and running on Texas’ victorious 4 x 400-meter relay teams in 2004 and 2003. She was a three-time U.S. Outdoor champion prior to the 2008 Olympic Trials. Richards has been ranked first in the world in the 400 from 2005-07.
- Height: 5-8
- Weight: 136
- Age: 23
- Birth date: February 26, 1985
- Hometown: Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
- World Championships: Three