Richards-Ross on quest for individual gold

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Sanya Richards-Ross speaks to the Longhorn Network about her upcoming trip to the 2012 London Summer Olympics.

Photo Credit: Marisa Vasquez | Daily Texan Staff

When it comes to the Olympics, Sanya Richards-Ross knows exactly what to do — after all, her trip to London in two weeks will be her third time competing in the Olympic Games. But with all her accomplishments and hardware, Richards-Ross has yet to fulfill one dream that she has had since the beginning, bringing home an individual Olympic gold medal.

“The individual gold is the reason I’ve stayed in this sport,” Richards-Ross said. “To be able to have an individual gold medal, I don’t know if I will be able to describe it, it will be my longtime dream come true. It will be the ultimate for me for what I’ve been working on for 20 years now since I was seven.”

In London, Richards-Ross will compete individually in the 200-meter and 400-meter events. She also qualified to participate in the 4x400 meter relay.

In 2004, at her first Olympic Games in Athens, Richards-Ross came away with her first Olympic medal — a gold medal in the 4x400 meter relay. She then she came home from the 2008 Beijing Olympics with two medals around her neck – one team gold medal in the 4x400 meter relay and a bronze medal in the 400-meter individual event.

Although she has been the favorite in the 400-meter dash since the 2004 Olympic Games, unfortunate circumstances have prevented her from claiming individual gold.

Richards-Ross failed to qualify for the 400-meter dash in 2004, coming in fourth at the Olympic trials due to illness. In 2008, Richards-Ross went to Beijing as the fastest finals qualifier and once again the favorite, but after coming out of the starting blocks too fast, took third.

“After 2008, I was so disappointed because I thought it was a huge missed opportunity,” Richards-Ross said. “Though I’ve had some tough times with injury and illness, the one thing that kept me going was that I wanted to get back to this point. To be able to have an individual gold medal.”

Now she’s back and is once again the one to watch for in women’s track and field. However, she’s added one more thing to her resume. After qualifying for the 400-meter dash with a first place finish, Richards-Ross decided to attempt the 200-meter dash. After three days of preparation, she qualified for the 200-meter dash with a third place finish.

“When the season started, I was focused on the 400,” Richards-Ross said. “Once that was over, I had about three days to recover … and it turned out to be a phenomenal race. It was really tough to make the team in the 200. I’m still solely focused on the 400, the 200 is icing on the cake.”

With all the knowledge she has gained from her past experiences, Richards-Ross is approaching the trip to London with a sense of calm and increased patience — she plans to enjoy herself. She believes that becoming too tense in the past has limited her accomplishments.

“I think I put a lot of pressure on myself to go out there and perform at a very high level … This year I worked very hard to stay disciplined,” she said of her shortcomings in Beijing. “I just feel so excited! I feel that I have so many great experiences that I can pull from and so I really hope to go out there an make this my best one ever.”

She has not decided what she will do after London. Thanks to her recent good health and success, a trip to the 2016 games is not unobtainable.

“I am kind of on the fence about it,” Richards-Ross said. “A couple of years ago I probably would have thought [the 2012 Olympics] would be my last … but the way I am feeling now, I feel that I could potentially do another one. It all depends but I am not going in thinking that, it would be too much pressure. We will see where the future takes me.”