Resilience. Resolute. Fighter. These are the words most often used to describe Richards-Ross, words that now serve as the foundation for a string of projects in the next chapter of her career off the track. The 5-time Olympic medalist (4 gold, 1 bronze) and 6-time world champion who was poised to defend her title in Rio, waved goodbye to her track career halfway through the ’16 Olympic trials following a hamstring injury. First up, tapping in as NBC’s designated track analyst and correspondent in Rio.
After a historical solo victory in London in the 400m, and anchoring the Women’s U.S. relay team to another gold in the 4×400, the double Olympic gold medalist from London ’12 remains the most-decorated female American Track and Field Olympian of all time.
Born Sanya Richards in Kingston, Jamaica, it wasn’t long before the future “fastest woman on the planet” was running sprints on the playground and leaving the older kids in the dust behind her. Her family moved to Fort Lauderdale, Florida when she was 12. She was named National High School Female Athlete of the Year, USA Track and Field’s Youth Athlete of the Year, and Track and Field News Women’s Prep Athlete of the Year at St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Florida all before going to college at the University of Texas at Austin. It was during her freshman year at UT when she met the man whom she would later marry in 2010, then Longhorn cornerback Aaron Ross (New York Giants).
The Olympics were calling, and Athens (2004) and Beijing (2008) went a little something like this: Athens become home to Richards-Ross’ first 4x400m gold. Richards-Ross won the bronze in the 400m at the Beijing Olympics, a celebratory moment for the country but a deafening personal defeat for the athlete who had been favored to win the gold all season. Finally, taking the baton in one of the highest-rated moments of the Beijing Games, Richards-Ross overtook Russia, turning in a 48.98 leg for gold, the fastest time in the world since 1993.
2009 saw accolades that seemingly didn’t end: Earning her 5th National title, the 2009 World Champion, IAAF World Female Athlete of the Year and Laureus Award nominee sat in the ranks beside six of the seven fastest times run in the world during the season, finally breaking the record for most 400m races run under 50 seconds with 39 sub-50 clockings and counting.
After an injury sidelined her for almost the entire year starting in April, Richards-Ross spent the 2011 season working her way back to form.
In 2012, she set four world leading times in the first three competitions of that season, and was crowned the 400m World Indoor Champion. She was the first American woman in 28 years. With her final anchoring of the women’s 4x400m relay to gold for the third consecutive time, Richards-Ross took home the medal that would rank her as the most-decorated American female Track and Field Olympian of all time. Following, Richards-Ross let fans into her home through her WE tv reality series Glam and Gold, which documented the world class track star as she juggled her appearances, career and home life.
Now that training is off the schedule, the former pro-athlete can spend more time on running her three thriving businesses: faux fur line Foofi & Bella with co-founder Angela Simmons, The Hair Clinic and Ross Elite Chauffeur Service, while expanding the reach of her personal foundation, The Gold Standard Foundation, which seeks to empower youth and the community through educational efforts and physical activity. She also has partnerships with Nike, Coca-Cola, BMW, Citibank, Liberty Mutual and BP.
Richards-Ross currently resides in Austin, Texas with the love of her life.
"Poised, personable and oh-so fast, Sanya Richards is ready to take over as the face of U.S. track and field..."- AP
"Glamorous queen of the track."- London Times
"The sky is the limit for Sanya."- Director of Track & Field Baylor University