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June 21, 2002 - Stanford
US Junior Nationals

Sanya Richards takes 400m record from Monique Henderson
face to face and doubles in 200m over Allyson Felix

by John Dye

Before she was 2006 World Athlete of the Year, Sanya Richards was the best high school 400 meter runner ever. She got the high school 400m outdoor record (50.69) at Stanford on June 21, 2002 in a memorable face to face duel with the former record holder, Monique Henderson. Earlier in the same meet, Richards won the 200 over future record holder Allyson Felix, 23.31 to 23.34. Richards finished her high school career with national records in the 400 both outdoors and indoors and the 200 meters indoors. The 400m outdoor record still stands, and she also holds the American record for women at 48.70.

Richards (left) and Henderson in the 400. Sanya's time was faster than
the senior women's 400m winner in the USA National meet the same week at Stanford.

Here is what we wrote the day of the meet:

Sanya Richards' 50.69 takes down Monique Henderson's record

by John Dye

This year's 400 meter queen, Sanya Richards FL, went for a double against last year's queen, UCLA freshman Monique Henderson, the HS record holder and a 2000 US Olympian, and Richards was clearly best. As if it wasn't enough to lose the record, Monique Henderson (right) had to view it from the next lane. Richards topped Henderson's 50.74 set in the California state meet 2 years ago. Henderson's runner-up 51.52 also beat the old Junior Nationals meet record.

"The 400 record was my goal at the start of the season, but I wasn't sure it would come today." Sanya said afterward. "Sometimes you just run to win, not for time." A Jamaican native who recently obtained US citizenship, Richards will now return to her home town of Kingston, Jamaica next month running for Team USA in the World Junior Championships. Asked if she would have mixed emotions, Sanya said firmly, "No. I made my decision."

Sanya Richards draws athletic talent from both her parents. Mom Sharon ran the 100, 200, and 400 in high school, same as Sanya, "but don't ask me my times," she said. Dad Newton, better known as Archie, was a top soccer player and coach.

200 meters - Sanya Richards FL 23.31 -3.5 (Allyson Felix CA 23.34)

Opposite emotions at finish of torrid duel.
Felix falls with hamstring injury, and Richards races off the winner.
Felix pulled hamstring
as pair were dead even near the finish.
It was too close to call before the race - the best in the West vs. the best in the East -- and it was almost too close to call at the finish. The two raced the last 75 meters side by side in adjacent lanes with the issue totally in doubt until Felix faltered just enough for Richards to win. The California junior, who usually floats serenely across the finish line no matter how close the race, had a contorted face as she reached the finish line and then collapsed just after the finish. After several minutes prone on the track, Felix got up and walked off under her own power. She had been entered in the senior women's 200 Saturday, but scratched. Headwind (-3.5 mps) holds down time on this and other sprints and hurdles on Friday.

Remembering Sanya even further back . . . 2001 Florida State Meet

We were present at Coral Springs FL May 11-12, 2001 when Sanya Richards doubled in the Florida 3A state meet in the 100 (- 1.3) and long jump (19-11.25).

Here's what we wrote at the time:

Sanya Richards advanced to the Florida 3A state finals in five events and, amazingly, she was favored in all five -- long jump, high jump, 100, 200, and 400. But she was hurting with season-long nagging injuries -- shin splints, hamstring, and turf toe. Furthermore, winning the five events was really eight competitions in one day because there were preliminaries in the sprints.

Things started auspiciously with a 19-11.25 win in a great long jump competition (four more girls were better than 18-11), but the drive for five ended in the high jump as Richards couldn't make her seed height of 5-6 and finished second to Marla Jackson's 5-6..

Then came the sprints - six races in a little over 4 hours. Richards advanced out of the prelims in all three events.

First in the finals was an easy win in the 100 in 11.96. In the 400, Richards pressed hard for the state record,
but her hamstring hobbled her leg movement near the finish and she ended up pushing Alycia Williams to the record.

Sanya resisted suggestions that she scratch from the 200 and perhaps lived to regret it.
Beaten well before the finish, she limped across the finish line 8th out of 9 runners.

SANYA'S BOTTOM LINE: 2 firsts, 2 seconds, 1 eighth -- a huge share of her team's 98 points as the St. Thomas Aquinas powerhouse won its fourth straight state championship.


US Junior Nationals home page http://www.dyestat.com/us/2out/jr-nat/index.htm

Junior Women's 200 http://www.dyestat.com/us/2out/jr-nat/r-112.htm

Junior Women's 400 http://www.dyestat.com/us/2out/jr-nat/r-114.htm

2001 Florida State Meet http://www.dyestat.com/state/fl/1out-statemeet/pix-SanyaRichards.htm

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