Sanya Richards-Ross

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Sanya Richards-Ross
Richards-Ross after winning gold medal of 4x400 relay during the 2012 Olympic Games.
Personal information
Born (1985-02-26) February 26, 1985 (age 36)
Kingston, Jamaica
Height5 ft 8 in (1.73 m)
Weight137 lb (62 kg)
CountryUnited States United States
SportTrack and field Sprinting
Event(s)400 m
Achievements and titles
Personal best(s)400m: 48.70 (2006, NR)

Sanya Richards-Ross (née Richards; born February 26, 1985) is a Jamaican-American former track and field athlete who competed internationally for the United States. At the 2012 Summer Olympics, she won gold in the 400 metres after finishing third at the 2008 Summer Olympics. Richards-Ross has also won Olympic gold in the 4×400 meters relay at the 2004 Summer Olympics, the 2008 Summer Olympics, and the 2012 Summer Olympics. She was the best 400m runner in the world for a decade, ranking No. 1 in the world from 2005-2009 and again in 2012.

In addition to her Olympic accolades, she is also a seven-time medalist at the World Championships in Athletics (five of which are gold). In 2009, she was the World Champion in the 400 metres.


As a freshman at the University of Texas in 2003, Sanya Richards won the NCAA national championship in the 400 meters with a time of 50.58. After her sophomore year in 2004, she turned pro.

At the Athens Olympics in 2004, Richards was part of the US team which finished first in the 4×400 meters relay.[1] She has won a silver medal in the 400 meters at 2005 World Championships in Athletics. In 2006, together with Jeremy Wariner (400 m) and Asafa Powell (100 m) she won her sixth out of six IAAF Golden League events in the same season, which earned her a total of $250,000. She broke Valerie Brisco-Hooks' US record of 48.83 with a 48.70 at the end of the 2006 season and was named IAAF 2006 Female World Athlete of the Year.[2] Her 48.70 ranks her as the #7 woman performer of all time. It is the only time a woman has run under 49 seconds without another competitor running within a second of them in the same race.

After failing to qualify for the 400 m at the 2007 World Championships in Athletics in Osaka due to illness which caused her to finish fourth in the US trials, Richards-Ross was the favourite to win gold in the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing and qualified fastest for the final, but went out of the blocks too quickly and was overtaken in the finishing straight by Christine Ohuruogu of Great Britain and Shericka Williams of Jamaica, consigning her to the bronze medal.

During the 2009 season, Richards-Ross took the 400 m national title in 50.05 seconds, finishing over half a second faster than the second placed Debbie Dunn. Although she expected faster times, she stated that winning the 2009 World Championships in Berlin was her number one goal.[3] A win in 49.46 s at the Golden Gala in Rome broke Marita Koch's record for most sub-50 second runs, bringing Richards' career total to 36.[4] Coming up to the World Championships, Richards won her fourth Golden League race in the 400 m with the time of 49.34 seconds and won her first global championship in the 400 m at the 2009 IAAF World Athletics Championships in Berlin with a world leading time of 49.00 seconds. Richards-Ross also anchored team USA to a gold medal in the women's 4 × 400 m relay in the sixth fastest time in history of 3.17.83 minutes, Richards-Ross split time in the relay was unofficially 48.43 seconds. After a career defining World Championships, Richards-Ross went on to win her final two Golden League races with a new world leading times of 48.94 seconds (Zurich) and 48.83 seconds (Brussels) to share in the $1M dollar jackpot with men's 3000 m/5000 m winner Kenenisa Bekele and women's pole vault winner Yelena Isinbayeva, each receiving US$333,333; this was the third time Richards had won the Golden League Jackpot. Sanya Richards-Ross ended her massive season on a high by winning silver in the 200 m at the IAAF World Athletics Final behind world champion Allyson Felix with a time of 22.29 seconds, and by winning gold in the 400m with a time of 49.95 seconds; achieving her 41st sub-50 second 400m run.

After an injury that prematurely ended her 2010 season, Richards-Ross bounced back in 2011 to run a 49.66 just prior to the World Championships in Daegu, South Korea. She wound up seventh, however, in the final. Richards-Ross later returned to top form in the 4 × 400 m relay, this time running the lead-off leg in 49.1, setting the team up for victory. It was her record fifth gold medal from the World Championships.

At the 2012 London Olympics on August 5, 2012, Richards-Ross finished the women's 400m in 49.55 to win the gold medal for the US.[5] Richards-Ross also ran the anchor leg of the gold medal-winning US women's 4 × 400 m relay team.[6] Following the Olympics, Richards-Ross won the remaining Diamond League meetings over 400m in Stockholm (49.89) and Zurich (50.21). The win in Stockholm improved her career total of sub-50 second races to an unchallenged 46.

Richards-Ross, recovering from foot surgery, started her track season in May 2014 in Jamaica. She was able to run a season's best of 49.66 and win Diamond League races in Paris and Brussels.[7] Richards-Ross suffered a career-ending injury to her right hamstring at the Olympic trials on July 1, 2016. Shortly afterwards she announced that she would retire in lieu of competing at the 2016 Summer Olympics.[8][9] She was a commentator for the track and field events at the Olympics.

Personal life[edit]

Richards-Ross started running at the age of 7. She was a 2002 graduate of St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale, where she finished with a cumulative 4.0 GPA and was pegged the National High School Female Athlete of the Year. At St. Thomas Aquinas, she lettered in track and field, and basketball. In high school, she was a member of the National Honor Society. In 2002, she was named National High School Female Athlete of the Year, USA Track and Field's Youth Athlete of the Year, and Track and Field News Women's Prep Athlete of the Year.[10] She became a naturalized American citizen in 2002.

Before leaving Jamaica for the U.S., she attended the Vaz Preparatory and the Immaculate Conception High School. According to the Registrar's public database on the website of the University of Texas at Austin, Richards attended the University between 2002 and 2005. She is a singer and a dancer, regularly performing for family and friends.

During her freshman year at Texas in 2003,[11][12] she began dating Longhorn football cornerback Aaron Ross, who later played for the New York Giants in the NFL. The two were engaged in 2007 and married on February 26, 2010.[13] Their wedding was featured on an episode of Platinum Weddings.[14] The pair had their first child, Aaron Jermaine Ross II, on August 12, 2017.[15] That same month, she admitted to having an abortion before she flew to Beijing for the 2008 Olympics.[16] Sanya stated that the decision to have the abortion broke her spirit and it took her years to forgive herself.[17] She also said:

It wasn't like, "Okay, cool, I'm healed, I'm recovered, I feel great about this journey." It took a long, long time, to understand that I am not the sum total of my decisions and choices but I am a child of God. I am capable of any sin. And God loves me in spite of my sinful nature. That has helped me to heal.[17]

In 2010, Richards starred in "The Educators", an Antoine Fuqua-directed Foot Locker commercial featuring Rajon Rondo, Amar'e Stoudemire, Justin Tuck, and DeSean Jackson.[18] This commercial was satirised by The Onion.[19][20]

Richards-Ross owns a hair extension line called Rich Hair Collection (previously called Gemini Strands) and a hair salon called The Hair Clinic in Austin, Texas with her sister.[21]

On July 25, 2013, Richards-Ross' reality TV show, "Glam and Gold", premiered on WE tv. According to its website, each hour-long episode of the docu-series follows Richards-Ross as she juggles appearances, runs a business, and balances life with her husband and family.[22] Primarily shot at their home in Austin, the series also visits Jacksonville, Florida, New York City, and Jamaica, where Sanya took team SRR for an Olympic victory lap and celebration.[23]

Richards-Ross' sponsorship deals include Nike, Inc, BP, BMW, Citibank, and Nutrilite.[24]

She was inducted into the Texas Track and Field Coaches Hall of Fame, Class of 2016.[25]


Competition record[edit]

Year Competition Venue Position Event Notes
Representing the  United States
2002 World Junior Championships Kingston, Jamaica 3rd 200m 23.09 (wind: -0.2 m/s)
2nd 400m 51.49
3rd (h)[26] 4 × 400 m relay 3:35.84
2003 World Championships Paris, France 11th (sf) 400 m 51.32
1st 4 × 400 m relay 3:22.63
2004 Olympic Games Athens, Greece 6th 400 m 50.19
1st 4 x 400 m relay 3:19.01
2005 World Championships Helsinki, Finland 2nd 400 m 49.74
World Athletics Final Monaco 1st 400 m 49.52
2006 World Indoor Championships Moscow, Russia 9th (sf) 400 m 52.46
World Athletics Final Stuttgart, Germany 2nd 200 m 22.17
1st 400 m 49.25
World Cup Athens, Greece 1st 400 m 48.70
1st 200 m 22.23
2007 World Championships Osaka, Japan 5th 200 m 22.70
1st 4 × 400 m relay 3:18.55
2008 Olympic Games Beijing, China 3rd 400 m 49.93
1st 4 × 400 m relay 3:18.54
2009 World Championships Berlin, Germany 1st 400m 49.00
1st 4 × 400 m relay 3:17.83
2011 World Championships Daegu, South Korea 7th 400 m 51.32
1st 4 × 400 m relay 3:18.09
2012 World Indoor Championships Istanbul, Turkey 1st 400 m 50.79
2nd 4 × 400 m relay 3:28.79
Olympic Games London, United Kingdom 5th 200 m 22.39
1st 400 m 49.55
1st 4 × 400 m relay 3:16.88
2014 World Relay Championships Nassau, Bahamas 1st 4 × 400 m relay 3:21.73
2015 World Relay Championships Nassau, Bahamas 1st Distance medley relay 10:36.50 (WR)
1st 4 × 400 m relay 3:19.39
World Championships Beijing, China 2nd 4 × 400 m relay 3:19.44

Personal bests[edit]

Event Time (seconds) Venue Date
60 meters 7.21 Lincoln, Nebraska, United States February 28, 2004
100 meters 10.97* Shanghai, China September 28, 2007
200 meters 22.09 New York City, USA June 8, 2012
400 meters 48.70 – National Record Athens, Greece September 16, 2006
  • All information from IAAF profile.[27]

Diamond League Wins[edit]

  • 2011 - London (400m)
  • 2012 - Eugene (400m), New York (200m), Stockholm (400m), Zurich (400m)


  1. ^ "Relay win is redemption for USA women". USA Today. August 28, 2004. Archived from the original on August 29, 2004.
  2. ^ "IAAF: News -". Retrieved 4 November 2018.
  3. ^ Morse, Parker (2009-06-28). World season leads for Demus and Merritt as team takes shape in Eugene – USA Champs, Day 3. IAAF. Retrieved on 2009-06-30.
  4. ^ Ramsak, Bob (10 July 2009). "IAAF: Gay powers back with 9.77 in Rome – REPORT - ÅF Golden League| News |". Retrieved 12 February 2018.
  5. ^ "London Olympics: Richards-Ross takes women's 400m gold". Retrieved 6 August 2012.
  6. ^ "Richards-Ross golden again as U.S 4x400m cruises to fifth-straight Olympic victory". August 11, 2012. Retrieved 2012-08-12.
  7. ^ Caramel (30 March 2014). "Stride by Stride: Interview with Sanya Richards-Ross @ Texas Relays". Retrieved 4 November 2018.
  8. ^ Zaccardi, Nick. "Sanya Richards-Ross to retire after Rio Olympics". NBC Sports. Retrieved 27 April 2016.
  9. ^ Bohnert, Craig (2016-07-01). "Sanya Richards-Ross unable to complete heat, retires at Olympic trials". Team USA. USOPC. Retrieved 9 February 2018.
  10. ^ Track and Field News High School AOY Archived 2011-10-13 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ "Perfect match: Track star girlfriend pushes Ross". 2 April 2007. Retrieved 4 November 2018.
  12. ^ Townsend, Brad (2008-08-19). "Sanya Richards: More than snake-bitten". Dallas Morning News. Retrieved 2008-08-19<!—None-->CS1 maint: postscript (link)
  13. ^ Mallozzi, Vincent M. "Sanya Richards and Aaron Ross". Retrieved 4 November 2018.
  14. ^ "Platinum Weddings – Sanya & Aaron – WE tv". 2011-02-25. Archived from the original on 2011-04-27. Retrieved 2011-09-03.
  15. ^ "Aaron Ross and Sanya Richards-Ross Welcome Son Aaron Jermaine II". Retrieved 4 November 2018.
  16. ^ "Sanya Richards-Ross 'healed' by support after abortion revelation". BBC Sport. Retrieved 15 August 2017.
  17. ^ a b "Sanya Richards-Ross: My Abortion Broke Me; God Redeemed Me". Christianity Today. Retrieved 23 May 2018.
  18. ^ "New FootLocker X Nike Commercials". SportsBiz.Biz. Retrieved 2011-09-03.
  19. ^ "No One Knows Who Female Star Athlete In Nike Commercial Is | The Onion Sports Network". Retrieved 2011-09-03.
  20. ^ With fastest performance since 2006, 'the old Richards is back' – ÅF Golden League. IAAF. Retrieved on 2009-07-24.
  21. ^ "The Hair Clinic". The Hair Clinic. Retrieved 4 November 2018.
  22. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-08-20. Retrieved 2013-06-19.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  23. ^ "Sanya's Glam and Gold: Official Press Release". Retrieved 4 November 2018.
  24. ^ "Amway and Nutrilite Athletes". Retrieved 4 November 2018.
  25. ^
  26. ^ Competed only in the heat.
  27. ^ "Richards, Sanya biography". IAAF. Retrieved 2009-06-08.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Alan Webb
USA Track & Field Youth Athlete of the Year
Succeeded by
Jason Richardson
Preceded by
Russia Yelena Isinbayeva
Women's Track & Field Athlete of the Year
Succeeded by
Ethiopia Meseret Defar
Preceded by
Ethiopia Tirunesh Dibaba
Women's Track & Field Athlete of the Year
Succeeded by
Croatia Blanka Vlašić