Former Longhorn runner and five-time NCAA Champion Sanya Richards-Ross is attempting to qualify for her third Olympics and redeem herself from what she considers a subpar performance in the 2008 Beijing Summer Games.
“I wanted to win for my country, my sponsors and myself,” said Richards-Ross. “I got so caught up in everything around the Olympic Games and what it would mean for my career to be an Olympic champion ... I made the emotions and circumstances get the better of me.”
Those emotions and circumstances still resulted in a bronze medal in the 400-meter race for Richards-Ross. Currently trying to qualify for both the 200- and 400-meter races, Sanya said she believes she is more mentally prepared to deal with the pressures of participating in the Olympics.
“I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that it’s something that I’ve actually had to work on, and I have learned through life experiences more how to deal with it,” Richards-Ross said.
Despite winning gold with Team USA in the 4x400-meter relay in Beijing, Richards-Ross didn’t win the race that mattered to her the most.
“I felt like it was a real missed opportunity. I won every single race that season and won every single race after that,” Richards-Ross said. “I was a little bitter about it and sour about it, but starting maybe in 2009, when I started competing again, it became pure motivation.”
That motivation drove her to win both the IAAF World Athlete of the Year and the Jesse Owens Award in 2009. Earning 11 All-American honors during her time at the University of Texas from 2003-04, Richards-Ross remains one of the best runners in the world.
She also credits her training to her ability to remain focused and deal with the various pressures in preparation for the 2012 games.
“I’m lucky, because I train in Waco, so there’s not much to do there but eat, sleep and train,” Richards-Ross said. “It’s a quiet place. There’s nobody there but myself, my coaches.”
Richards-Ross and her coaches have had to intensify training to help her reach her goal of making both the 200- and 400-meter teams.
“I’ve been training really, really hard. I know the speed is there, I know my endurance is there, so it’s just putting those two together in the 200,” Richards-Ross said. “I mean, it’s a no-brainer for me. The 400 comes first, so it’s really just icing on the cake for me.”