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Sha’Carri Richardson Documentary Showing at Sundance Film Festival

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Sha'Carri Richardson celebrates winning the women's 100-meter final at the 2020 U.S. Olympic Track & Field Team Trials. | Image by Patrick Smith, Getty Images

Dallas-born Sha’Carri Richardson became a household name in the lead-up to the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. The 22-year old Carter High School track star exploded onto the scene in 2019 as a freshman at Louisiana State University, when she broke the women’s 100-meter collegiate record with a time of 10.75 seconds.

The record-setting run led many to consider Richardson a lock for Team USA’s Olympic track team. Richardson appeared to solidify her place on the team even more when she bested her record-breaking time by running the 100-meter in 10.72 seconds at the U.S. Olympic trials. However, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency would later invalidate that time.

After testing positive for marijuana, Richardson’s Olympic trial run was disqualified, making her ineligible to compete at the Olympics in the 100-meter race. Still, Richardson could have had a chance to join the 4×100-meter relay team in Tokyo. But she opted against that, saying in an interview with Today on NBC after testing positive that she needed to “put all her time and energy into dealing with what I need to deal with to heal myself.”

Now, Richardson is getting the chance to tell more of her story. A new documentary short film about Richardson debuted at the online-only 2022 Sundance Film Festival, which lasts through January 30.

The film is titled “Sub Eleven Seconds,” named after the record-breaking time that launched her into the national spotlight. Directed by the photographer and filmmaker Bafic, Sub Eleven Seconds is executive produced by Virgil Abloh, the American fashion designer. He created the label Off-White and was the artistic director at Louis Vuitton before he passed away in November 2021 at age 41.

Sundance’s website describes Sub Eleven Seconds as “a rumination on time, loss, and hope” and a “poetic imagining of the quest of a young track and field athlete to achieve her dream of qualifying for the Olympic Games.”

Richardson shared the trailer of the film on Twitter. “Time is my blessing and my curse,” she says in the video. “On the track, I’ve been blessed to run fast. Off the track, time has cheated me. You don’t know when something or someone will be taken from you.”

In her appearance on Today on NBC, Richardson said she used marijuana to cope with emotional pain stemming from when she learned from a reporter after a race that her biological mother died. Finding out in that way sparked what Richardson said was an “emotional panic.”

“(I’m) not making an excuse or looking for any empathy in my case, but, however, being in that position in my life, finding out something like that, something that I would say is probably one of the biggest things that have impacted me … that definitely was a very heavy topic on me,” Sha’Carri Richardson said.

“I apologize for the fact that I didn’t know how to control my emotions or deal with my emotions during that time,” she added. “Don’t judge me. I am human. I just happen to run a little faster.”

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