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Who could be the best possible replacement for Sha'Carri Richardson at Tokyo Olympics?

The 21-year old sprinting sensation was disqualified from the Games due to testing positive for marijuana

Team USA Athlete ShaCarri Richardson

Sha'Carri Richardson (Source: CNN)


Eshaan Joshi

Updated: 14 Dec 2021 6:05 AM GMT

The American sprinting sensation Sha'Carri Richardson is set to miss the Tokyo Olympic Games, on account of testing positive for marijuana, a banned substance as per the guidelines of World-Anti Doping Agency (WADA). Richardson's performance at the US Olympic trials for the women's 100 m was disqualified as a part of the punishment, and the United States Track & Field extended it to the women's 4 x 100 m event as well, to maintain the integrity of the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Track & Field.

Richardson had admitted to taking the drug to deal with the emotional turbulence on account of the passing away of her mother, coupled with the pressure of performance, which led to her suspension on the grounds of 'substance of abuse' (administering a prohibited substance for reasons outside of sport). A ban of 30 days was imposed, which began on 28th June, 2021, and still left time for Richardson to participate in the relay event. However, the US Track & Field decided against it, regarding an amendment in policy at the last minute being against the interest of other athletes.

As a result of this, the 21-year old, one of the hot favourites for the podium spot, has been forced to opt out of the Games. Richardson had recorded a time of 10.86 seconds for 100 m at Eugene, in the U.S. Olympic Trials, and immediately shot to prominence as the second fastest woman in the year, being set to enter the Olympics with a high reputation.

Her ouster, therefore, comes as a big shock to the U.S. Olympic Team, creating two vacant spots, in the 100 m, as well as in the 4 x 100 m relay events. Her spot shall, in high probability, be taken by the 28-year old Jenna Prandini, who finished fourth in the U.S. Olympic Trials, clocking a time of 11.11 seconds.

Prandini, who is now a known name in track events, had started off her career with jumping events. She won the NCAA long jump event in 2014, covering a distance of 6.55 m. She has represented USA at the Olympics, finishing tenth in the women's 100 m event at Rio de Janeiro in 2016. Prandini created ripples a couple of weeks back, defeating legendary runner and six-time Olympic gold medalist Allyson Felix in the 200 m event.

Given her records and recent exploits, Prandini seems set to replace Richardson in both 100 m as well as 4 x 100 m relay events. This also implies that Aleia Hobbs, who finished seventh in the Trials at Eugene, should be considered for the relay event. Hobbs had taken a time of 11.20 seconds to cover the distance of 100 m.
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