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Richards wants to stay number one

24 May 2006

Sanya Richards won the women's 200 meters in a wind-aided 22.42 in the adidas Track Classic at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. on Sunday, May 21, 2006. (Image of Sport) Sanya Richards won the women's 200 meters in a wind-aided 22.42 in the adidas Track Classic at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. on Sunday, May 21, 2006. (Image of Sport)
Jamaican-born American 400 metre runner Sanya Richards says she's determine to work hard to maintain her world number one position in the event this season.

Richards, the youngest female quarter-miler to dip under 49 seconds when she won at the IAAF Zurich TDK Golden League last season, currently leads the World Ranking with 1394-points, 11 more than World and Olympic champion Tonique Williams-Darling from the Bahamas and she said she's hoping to build on that performance.

"It's time to get serious," Richards said. "I want to run more consistently, 49 seconds or under. This is the beginning of the path toward the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and I have something to prove to myself."

After failing to make it to the finals at the World Indoor Championships, in Moscow, earlier this year, Richards opened her outdoor season with a time of 50.44sec in Texas, before clocking a world-leading 49.89sec to win at the Jamaica International Invitational on May 6, and according to the American, she wants to send a message with each of her performances.

"I'm finally over the hump and I feel great," the world silver medallist at 400m said. "I worked really hard last year (to get to the number one position), now I want all my efforts this year to make me stay number one."

"It's going to be tough to be the best but I am really working hard on it," she added.

Stepping down to run the 200m at the Adidas Track and Field Classic held at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California, on Sunday, Richards posted a slightly wind-aided 22.42sec to take that event over fellow Americans Crystal Cox (22.61) and LaShauntea Moore (22.64).

Richards took command of the race from the gun, blazing a superb curve before cruising to the finish line and proved that her preparation for a successful season is right on schedule.

"I felt really good. I wanted to run a strong turn today (Sunday) (because) in the 400m it's all about running fast curves....that's what I used the 200m for this week," she said with a smile, adding: "I was shocked I was in the lead off the turn."

The 21-year-old Richards, who migrated from her native in Kingston, Jamaica, now trains with fellow Americans Olympic and World champion Jeremy Wariner and Darold Williamson in Waco, Texas, under the guidance of coach Clyde Hart and she said the move has helped her to become a better 400m runner so far.

"It has helped me," said Richards, referring to training with Williamson and Wariner after cutting short her colligate career short as a sophomore to compete professionally.

"Jeremy and Darold are running really well and they are always very encouraging so it's helped be to become a great 400m runner so far."

Richards, the 2005 Visa Humanitarian Athlete of the Year, said she's hoping to run continuously fast this season and collect the $100,000 grand prize stake at the end of the Visa series, which is scheduled to conclude in Indianapolis with the 2006 AT&T USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships.

However, her next real big test comes next Sunday in Eugene, Oregon, where she will take on season rival Williams-Darling, the World and Olympic champion.

"Pre (Classic) is going to be extremely important to run really fast and set myself up to get so many points to win (the Visa series)."

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