Richards was undefeated in the 400 in 2006, concluding her year by breaking an American record that had stood for 22 years, being named World Athlete of the Year by the sport's international governing body (IAAF) and winning the Jesse Owens Award as the top U.S. female track athlete.
At just 21 years of age, Richards had one of the greatest seasons ever by an American 400-meter runner. She ran under 50 seconds nine times during the season, including breaking the American record on September 16 with her time of 48.70 at the IAAF World Cup in Athens. She easily broke Valerie Brisco's national mark of 48.83, set at the 1984 Olympic Games.
All told, Richards ran the five fastest times in the world in 2006, the six fastest times by an American and 10 of the top 11 American times. She was undefeated outdoors in the 400 on the year, winning a $249,999 portion of the jackpot for sweeping the IAAF's prestigious Golden League series and taking the USA Indoor, USA Outdoor, World Athletics Final and World Cup titles. All told, she won 15 consecutive races and added the World Cup 200m crown as well.
Perhaps most stunning is that many of Richards' wins in the world's most vaunted track meets came with a margin of victory of one full second.
After half the 2007 Golden League season, she is one of only three athletes still in the running to win the IAAF Golden League Jackpot, having won all Golden League 400m titles to date. She also has run the fastest time in the world so far this year (49.52, July 6, Paris).
Award winners will be announced on Monday, October 15, 2007, and honored at the Annual Salute to Women in Sports Awards Dinner at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City. The public can vote by visiting www.sportswomanvote.com. Voting will end August 31st at midnight
photos Janos Schmidt