Olympian Sanya Richards-Ross returns to campus

Leah Vann

Sanya Richards-Ross told her first grade teacher she would be an Olympian someday. And 24 years later, after racking up four gold medals, she’s ready for something new. 

Richards-Ross returned to the University as a speaker for Campus Events and Entertainment’s Distinguished Speaker Series on Wednesday evening. She ran for Texas in 2003 and 2004, turning pro after making her first Olympic team. Now, she plans to return to UT finish her degree at the business school.

“My days at Texas were my best days,” Richards-Ross said. “My husband [former NFL cornerback Aaron Ross] and I wish we could go back.”

As an accomplished Olympian, Richards-Ross reflected on her career in track and field with stories of her greatest struggles on her path to success. To help maintain her competitive attitude, she hired a sports psychologist to change her perception of success.

“It was August 5, 2008 and I won the bronze … it felt like I lost the gold,” Richards-Ross said. “It’s important for you to find mentors … who can teach you how to open up your mind and heart towards success. I walked on the track at London 2012 and visualized myself winning the gold medal before the race started.” 

Richards-Ross said she believes it is important for athletes to figure out what to do when their sport ends, which is why she has explored interests beyond the track.

Since her days at McCombs, Richards-Ross has maintained an interest in entrepreneurship. She opened a hair salon with her sister and a luxury limo-service with her husband in Austin. Now, she’s currently writing a book, but it won’t be an autobiography. She hopes to inspire people of all ages to pave their own ways to success through her book and motivational speaking.

“My story isn’t done yet,” Richards-Ross said. “I really want to be on college campuses and talking to students and executives on being the best versions of themselves.”