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Richards, Ross make for one fast couple

Source: www.wcsn.com

5 May 2007

By Robert Falkoff

For an avid sports enthusiast, Sanya Richards and Aaron Ross represent the ideal couple.

She's the reigning IAAF World Athlete of the Year and a Jesse Owens Award winner. He's the cornerback who made a name for himself at the University of Texas and was recently selected as a first-round draft choice of the New York Giants.

What happens when the world's premier female 400-meter sprinter is dating the reigning Thorpe Award winner, which is given to the nation's top defensive back?

It's a publicist's dream and has all the earmarks of elevating the gifted couple to super celebrity status by the summer of 2008 when Ross, who was recognized as the top defensive back in the country, is starting his second year in the NFL and Richards is setting her sights on the Beijing Olympics.

Everybody likes a good love story, and when it involves two exceptional athletes who appear targeted for long-lasting stardom in their respective sports, it's a story that the masses figure to truly embrace.

Richards and Ross, who have dated for three years, plan to marry in 2009 after Richards competes in the '08 Olympics. If all goes according to plan over the next 15 months, there should be plenty of paparazzi trying to snap pictures at that wedding.

Richards, who was part of the U.S. 4x400-meter gold medal team at the 2004 Olympics, is positioned for individual gold this time around. She's the top-ranked 400-meter runner in the world after going undefeated last year.

Although a virus has kept her out of early-season meets, Richards recently expressed her excitement for getting back into competition and building toward the 2007 World Championships in Osaka. She set the American record in the 400 meters last September with a clocking of 48.70 at the World Cup in Athens.

"I can't wait to start competing again," Richards recently told USA Track & Field. "I'm hungrier than ever to win my first world title and to continue to lower the American record."

While Richards is working to stay at the top of the 400-meter field through Beijing, Ross will be working to establish himself as a standout NFL cornerback. If he thrives in the media mecca of New York City, the Richards-Ross story will get even bigger.

Based on the scouting evaluations prior to the April 28 draft, one can envision Ross having a strong rookie season. Although he has been quick to say his fiancee is the better athlete, there's no looking past the athleticism that Ross will bring to the Giants' defense. Scouts say he has the speed and quickness to cover receivers and the physical toughness to support against the run. Hence, the Giants were happy to grab him with the 20th overall pick.

Flash forward to Beijing in August, 2008. Ross won't be able to attend the Olympics and cheer on Richards in person because the Giants will be in the midst of training camp. Maybe he'll be coming off a rookie season that will have made him a household name in New York.

As Ross sweats it out through preseason, Richards will be entertaining a worldwide media contingent in Beijing with a personal story of her guy, who's not just any guy.

By the time the Beijing Games are over and this couple takes that trip to the altar in '09, Ross could be established as an All-Pro and Richards could be established as an Olympic gold medalist in an individual event.

Two great athletes with hearts that beat as one. That would be a sports story with happily-ever-after connotations which could make the whole world smile.

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