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Sha’Carri Richardson, Noah Lyles lead winners at USATF Golden Games

Sha'Carri Richardson gains speed down the finish and wins the women's 100m in 10.77 seconds at the 2021 USATF Golden Games, and says she was expecting a different time, but she is not disappointed.

Sha’Carri Richardson again looked peer-less in the 100m on Sunday. Noah Lyles, dominant in the 200m for years, conquered a rare challenge.

After the early DK Metcalf buzz at the USATF Golden Games, world-class runners showcased track speed six weeks before the Olympic Trials.

Start with Richardson, who confirmed she has the talent to bring home the U.S.’ first Olympic women’s 100m title in 25 years. The 21-year-old clocked 10.74 and 10.77 seconds within two hours of each other. The latter was into a 1.2 meter/second headwind, the fastest time ever into that much wind. Unfortunate, as it was the only sprint not run with a tailwind Sunday at Mt. SAC in Walnut, California.

“We’re just getting started!” Richardson exclaimed moments after the 10.74.

Richardson also ran 10.72 last month to become the sixth-fastest woman in history. She is in the mix for Olympic gold, along with Jamaicans Elaine Thompson-Herah and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who ran 10.71 and 10.73, respectively, in 2019. The last U.S. woman to win an Olympic 100m was Gail Devers in Atlanta (not counting Marion Jones’ stripped 2000 gold).

Later, Lyles rallied to win the 200m in 19.90, surging past Kenny Bednarek by .04. Lyles, who has a personal best of 19.50, is not known for his start but consistently puts fields away in the last half of the race. He’s lost just one outdoor 200m since turning pro out of high school after the 2016 Olympic Trials, and that was to a man not expected to race the 200m this summer (400m star Michael Norman).

Lyles has been watching other runners, including Richardson, as he prepares to race the 100m and 200m at Trials. He said he had low expectations on Sunday and exceeded them.

“No matter what position, I feel like I can always get myself into a winning position,” in the 200m, said Lyles, who sprinted wearing a black, fingerless glove on his left hand, nine months after raising a black-gloved fist on the start line at two meets in Europe. “In the 100m, I still feel like I’m tinkering. ... Sometimes I run out of real estate. In the 200m, I always have more real estate.”

Bednarek, second at the 2019 USATF Outdoor Championships, is 22 years old and 15 months younger than Lyles.

Full meet results are here. Athletes are preparing for the U.S. Olympic Trials next month, when the top three are in line to make the Olympic team in most events.

Earlier, the Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Metcalf ran the 100m, clocking 10.37 seconds for last place in his heat. His time, though two tenths off qualifying for Olympic Trials, beat most expert predictions. More from Metcalf here.

Allyson Felix was second in a field of Olympic team contenders in her first 200m since 2017. She clocked 22.26 seconds -- .14 behind Gabby Thomas -- with a 2.1 tailwind (just above the legal limit of 2.0). Had it been a legal wind, Felix would rank fifth among Americans in the 200m since the start of 2019. She’s expected to enter both the 200m and the 400m at the Olympic Trials, seeking a fifth Olympics and, at age 35, her first as a mom.

Norman won a 400m in 44.40 seconds, his best time since September 2019. Norman looked like the Olympic favorite until injuries derailed his summer 2019. He still might be, though Sunday’s race lacked the other favorites -- world champion Steven Gardiner of the Bahamas and American Fred Kerley.

Norman’s training partner Rai Benjamin ran the fastest 400m hurdles time in history this early in a calendar year. Benjamin, the 2019 World silver medalist, clocked 47.13 seconds, matching the 14th-fastest time in history. Benjamin already owns the the joint-fourth-fastest time in history of 46.98. Norwegian Karsten Warholm, the two-time reigning world champion, is the Olympic favorite with a best time of 46.87.

Elle Purrier, who grew up milking cows on her family’s century-old Vermont dairy farm, won a 1500m in 3:58.36, making her the sixth-fastest American in history. She’s a favorite to make the Olympic team, along with American record holder Shelby Houlihan. Jenny Simpson, the 2016 Olympic bronze medalist, has made every Olympic and world team dating to 2007, but she has serious competition to extend that streak.

In an 800m, Bryce Hoppel, fourth at 2019 Worlds, prevailed in 1:44.94 over a field that included 2016 Olympic bronze medalist Clayton Murphy. Donavan Brazier, who won the 2019 World title in an American record 1:42.34, scratched out of the meet late last week.

The USATF Journey to Gold series continues May 23 with the Boston Games live on NBC Sports and Peacock Premium.

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