Thursday, April 19, 2012

Sanya Richards-Ross On Schedule For Olympic 400 meters

It's an Olympic year. But the way Sanya Richards-Ross felt and performed Saturday at the Texas Relays, it might not be the last Olympic year for the Longhorn legend.

Completely healthy for the first time since 2010, Richards-Ross certainly looked it at the 85th annual Relays. On a hot day that saw many scorching times on her former home track at Myers Stadium, the American 400-meter outdoor record holder (48.70) logged some quality speed work by setting a personal-best time of 10.89 in the invitational 100 meters.

To Richards-Ross, it's a positive omen, as she continues to chase her first Olympic gold medal in the open 400, to go with her two golds in the 1,600 relay.

"I know when my speed is on, my 400 gets a lot easier, so I'm really excited about the rest of the season," said Richards-Ross, who was cheered on by her husband, former Longhorn cornerback Aaron Ross, a two-time Super Bowl champion with the New York Giants who recently signed with Jacksonville.

Richards-Ross was hardly the only speedy athlete Saturday at the Relays. In fact, it was a tailor-made day for speed.

The tone was set early when Auburn's men registered the fourth-fastest collegiate 400 relay time in history. Marcus Rowland, Harry Adams, Michael DeHaven and Keenan Brock got the baton around in 38.30 seconds, eclipsing the meet mark of 38.64, set in 1999 by TCU.

There were numerous other blistering times that stadium announcers declared to be meet records. However, a southerly wind exceeding the 2.0 meters-per-second allowable disqualified them from record consideration.

The host Longhorns won two events on the final day.

Jacob Thormaehlen became the Texas men's first winner in the shot put since Oskar Jakobsson in 1982.

The senior, who qualified for the finals on his last throw of the prelims after injuring his fingers on a warmup throw, got off his winning toss of 64 feet, 1 inch on his sixth and final throw of the competition. He edged teammate Hayden Baillio, who was second in 63-9.

The Longhorn women closed their meet by winning the 1,600 relay for the first time since 2005. Stacey-Ann Smith, Kendra Chambers, Allison Peters and Briana Nelson posted a 3:29.79 to hold off LSU's 3:30.42.

Richards-Ross also ran the anchor leg on her all-star team's winning time of 3:27.03. To her, the most encouraging aspect to her showing was that she was pain-free. That has seldom been the case since she pulled a quadriceps muscle at the 2010 Penn Relays.

"I'm leaps and bounds ahead of where I was," she said. "Last season my body just never got in sync. I never felt I was sprinting at top speed. But now I feel like my old self again."

Her personal coach, former Baylor coach Clyde Hart, can tell. Hart said Richards-Ross is right on schedule for the 400 at the London Olympics.

"Indoors, she was like a bottle of soda pop that you shake up," Hart said. "If you don't take the top off, it's going to blow off. The 400 is her goal. All this other stuff is just fluff."

Richards-Ross, 27, says she's ready to reach that goal.

"I used to always say I'm going to run forever," she said. "Then the last three years I thought, ‘OK, 2012 might be it.' But now I feel fresh again, so I'm hoping I can make it all the way to 2016."