In the women’s 100-meter final, Sha’Carri Richardson, Javianne Oliver, and Teahna Daniels made the Olympic team that will represent the United States in Tokyo this summer.
Richardson blazed the track with a winning time of 10.86 (into a headwind). Oliver finished second in 10.99, and Daniels claimed the final spot by finishing third in 11.03. Tokyo will be the first Olympic Games for all three athletes.
Oregon alum and 2016 Olympian Jenna Prandini was the first athlete to finish outside of the Olympic team by placing fourth in 11.11, a season’s best. She will be an alternate.
Richardson has been building toward this victory for two years. After breaking the collegiate record in the 100 meters at the 2019 NCAA Outdoor Championships, the former LSU standout decided to forgo her remaining NCAA eligibility to turn pro as a freshman. This season, the 21-year-old emerged as a medal contender when she set a then-world leading time of 10.72 at the Miramar Invitational in April.
Now she is ranked No. 2 in the world behind Olympic champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce of Jamaica who ran 10.62, the second-fastest 100-meter time in history.
After winning the final, Richardson shared some of the challenges she’s faced this season, including the death of her biological mother. Following her victory, she ran over to her grandmother, who was sitting in the stands, and hugged her.
“My grandmother is my heart, my superwoman,” Richardson said. “To have her here at the biggest meet of my life, it’s just amazing. That probably felt better than winning the races, just being able to hold her after becoming an Olympian.”
Oliver, 26, made the Olympic team after running a personal best of 10.96 in the first round of the women’s 100 meters on Friday. In 2017, she graduated from the University of Kentucky, where her best finish at the NCAA meet was second in the 60 meters at the 2017 NCAA Indoor Championships. She became a national champion in the 60 meters at the 2018 USATF Indoor Championships. Oliver trains with Richardson and five-time Olympic medalist Justin Gatlin in a Florida-based training group.
“Our practices are really competitive,” Oliver said. “I know I’m training with the top.”
Daniels competed for Team USA at the 2019 IAAF World Championships in Doha, Qatar, where she contributed to the 4×100-meter relay that earned bronze. She finished seventh in the 100-meter final. The 24-year-old graduated from the University of Texas.
“I can’t even explain how I’m feeling,” Daniels said. “Honestly, I’ve dreamt about this, I’ve written in my journals about this, I’ve visualized it, and just to see it happen is kind of surreal. I never gave up on myself so I knew this was going to happen.”
The stage was set for a fast race during the semifinal almost two hours earlier. In heat 1, Richardson hyped the crowd with a wind-aided personal best of 10.64 (2.6 m/s). Daniels also ran a wind-aided personal best by finishing second in 10.84. Oliver won the second heat in 10.83 (2.5 m/s), also a wind-aided personal best.
An unexpected entrant competed in the 100-meter final when Aleia Hobbs was let in after being disqualified for a false start in the semifinal. After a protest was filed, Hobbs competed in the final. She finished seventh in 11.20.
“It was hard,” Hobbs said. “I was all the way down completely. I tried to get back up but it was hard.”
The Tokyo Olympic team shows a changing of the guard in the women’s 100 meters. In 2016, English Gardner, Tianna Bartoletta, and Tori Bowie represented Team USA in Rio. On Saturday, Gardner finished sixth after battling long-haul COVID symptoms this season. She was the only athlete of the three who competed in the final.