Richardson, Thomas set up showdown in final of 200 at Olympic track trials

EUGENE, Ore. — Sha’Carri Richardson and Gabby Thomas, two of America’s best medal hopes at the 2024 Paris Games, both advanced to the finals of the women’s 200-meter dash Friday evening at Hayward Field, each finishing first in their semifinal heats at the U.S. Olympic track and field trials. 

Richardson clocked a 21.92, tying her personal best, while Thomas ran a 21.78, the fastest time in the world this season. Their wins set up a showdown Saturday in the final, scheduled for 8:27 p.m. ET (5:27 p.m. local). 

‘I’m super excited that I actually was able to equal my (personal record),’ Richardson said on the NBC broadcast after her race. ‘I’m just looking forward to (Saturday) and just busting it wide open.’

McKenzie Long, a star at Ole Miss who had the fastest 200 time in the world this year (21.83) before Thomas topped it one semifinal heat later, won her heat and also advanced.

‘I was a little surprised, I know I’m in shape and I’m ready to run, but it felt like such a a nice, controlled run for me,’ Thomas said afterward. ‘I didn’t expect to run that fast feeling that good, so it kinda excites me for (Saturday).’

Richardson is looking to qualify in her second event after winning the 100 in 10.71 seconds last week. The U.S. Olympic track and field trials title continues a remarkable climb back to prominence for Richardson, who delighted track fans in 2021 at the trials before a stunning fall from grace when she was banned after testing positive for THC. She missed the Tokyo Games and has been blunt about her struggles before and after that cataclysmic event, saying everything she’s been through allowed her to come back. She is running with obvious joy this season. 

Asked what it would mean to head to Paris in two events, Richardson said, ‘It would show that divine timing is everything. And what is meant to happen is going to happen and nothing will stop it. And I will feel like it’s my responsibility … to go to Paris and bring back those medals.’

Thomas, meanwhile, is the defending bronze medalist in the 200. She also won a silver as part of the 4×100 relay in Tokyo.

Thomas is also a fan favorite in the track world partially because of her unconventional college choice. She ran at Harvard from 2015-18, turning pro before her senior season of college. She tends to run well in this stadium, having recorded personal bests in both the 100 and 200 in previous meets held in Eugene. 

‘I’m not gonna lie, I would love to see a (personal best), I think I’m capable. Sitting out the first half of trials took a lot of discipline and patience so that I can run a really good 200,’ said Thomas, who considered doubling and also running the 400. ‘I wouldn’t be surprised to see a big PB (Saturday) but I don’t know. You never know what to expect in these kind of races so I just want to come out with a win.’

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