Waco, USASanya Richards-Ross was the only major star to run in the Michael Johnson/Dr. Pepper meet on Saturday (21), but that turned out to be all that was needed.
The 26-year-old World Indoor 400m champion, despite running a less than perfect race, beat a field of university runners by more than 15 metres and finished in 50.18, the world-leading time by nearly a full second.
“It was a good time considering the competition,” said her coach, Clyde Hart, noting that none of the other runners were pushing her. ”We wanted her to go through the first 200 in 23.5 or so, but she went through in 24.6."
“That’s the hard way to do it,” added Hart. “It was a strength race all the way.” And, he added, “That’s the fastest she’s ever run this early in the year.
“It went very well,” said the smiling Richards. “Coach Hart wanted me to be in the 50s-low range. Usually when you go out slow you have a slower time, so I think I executed well. And the best is yet to come.”
Richards-Ross will run a 4x400 relay leg in next week’s Penn Relays, and run her next individual 400 a week after that in Jamaica.
Her usual co-star at this meet, Jeremy Wariner, opted for the 400 at the Mt. SAC Relays, and had no trouble finding world-class competition. Wariner was nipped at the tape by Britain’s Martyn Rooney, 44.92 to 44.96, the two fastest times so far this year. It was a performance which made Hart smile broadly. He said, “I spoke to Jeremy on the phone after the race, and he said he felt very good.” No problems, in other words, for the injury-plagued 2004 Olympic champion.
James Dunaway for the IAAF