Run With Me: The Story of a U.S. Olympic Champion is a new autobiography by Sanya Richards-Ross, the 2012 Olympic gold medalist in the 400 meters! Richards-Ross teaches readers about the challenges she had to overcome to be an Olympic champion. The book is organized into four main parts, the four P’s: Push, Pace, Position, and Poise, which represent the four stages of a race. Richards-Ross adds a fifth P: Prayer.
“I always felt that there was such genius to my coach’s four P’s strategy,” says Richards-Ross. “As I got older, I realized that they also apply to my current life. There are definitely times where I need to pace myself. The positioning part of the race is the part that takes a lot of courage; you have to go after your goals and trust yourself. Poise is all about after you’ve done the hard work, believing that you can be successful. And of course, the fifth P, prayer, is a huge part of my life. I thought it was a good strategy to share with the world.”
The book begins with Sanya’s early track career in Jamaica, at the age of seven. Her dad was always a huge part of her life. He pushed her to be the best athlete she could be and helped her find and cultivate her love of track. “As a kid, track was all around me because it was the most popular sport in Jamaica,” says Richards-Ross. “My goal, since I was just beginning to race, was to become an Olympic champion.”
When she was 12, Sanya’s family moved from Jamaica to Florida. Even though this was a huge move for her, Sanya did not lose sight of her goal and kept on running. When she was 16, she had a fabulous junior national meet and was asked to join the American Junior Olympic team. Sanya was overjoyed, and she and her mom went to sign up. The registration required a U.S. passport, something Sanya did not have. Since Sanya was a minor, if her mom became a citizen, she would too. And that is exactly what happened!
Richards-Ross attended the University of Texas because she wanted a good balance of academics and athletics. Additionally, says Richards-Ross, “I felt like I was at a critical point in my career where I needed to be coached by a female.”
Richards-Ross had a fantastic career as a college runner and then decided to turn professional. After an upsetting loss at the 2008 Olympics, she was prepared to take gold in 2012. She ran the 400 meters in 49.55 seconds. “I knew I crossed the finish line first,” recalls Richards-Ross, “but I didn’t allow myself to experience it until I saw my name on the scoreboard and I thought to myself, Oh my God; this is real! It was really special for me. The best part was that I had 30 members of my family and close friends all watching me and cheering me on.”
Before each season began, Richards-Ross made a vision board with all of the things that were most important to her and all of her goals for that season. And even though she is not running professionally anymore, she still makes vision boards at the beginning of each calendar year. One thing that she always makes sure to include is a representation of her faith. “My faith has been the most important thing to me,” she says. “It has helped me throughout the lows and highs of my career. I trusted that everything in my life happened for a reason.”
When asked about the advice she has for young athletes, specifically runners, Richards-Ross says, “I think sports are one of life’s best teachers. So whether it is running or any sport that you try, you should be involved. I think it helps build character and makes you a better person. There are other things that teach life lessons too, but I think sports are one of the main ones. I would also encourage you to stick with it for as long as possible and see how far it takes you.”
I highly recommend you read Richards-Ross’s book Run With Me if you are between the ages of nine and 15. Her story is very interesting. She writes eloquently and in my opinion is an excellent role model for young athletes. In person she was warm, friendly, and inspiring, the same personality is displayed throughout her book.
Richards-Ross is writing two other versions of her autobiography meant for other audiences. Chasing Grace: What the Quarter Mile Has Taught Me about God and Life is aimed more at adults, but teenagers will enjoy it as well. It was published in June. Right on Track: Run, Race, Believe is meant for young adults and it will be released in February 2018.
Photographs by (from top) Julia Vynokurova/Getty Images; Riley Neubauer; Zondervan