PHILADELPHIA — Sanya Richards laughed at the question, though she seemed confident she knew the answer. Still, she turned to the back of the room and posed it to her future husband.
"Baby, if we were to race, who would win?"
Her fiance, New York Giants cornerback Aaron Ross, smiled before pointing at her.
If that's true — and not just, as Richards said, Ross being "trained well" — it certainly would be a good sign for the U.S. women at the Beijing Olympics this summer. The American record holder in the 400 meters at 48.7 seconds plans not only to compete in that event at the trials but also to put herself among the pool of runners for relays.
"I want to be put in the [400-meter relay]. That's why I am running here," said Richards, who is in town to run on the American 400- and 1,600-meter relay teams in the USA vs. the World races at Penn Relays today. "I've been mixing in a good deal of 100s and 200s [to train for it]."
The 23-year-old couldn't train much last spring. A year after she went undefeated worldwide outdoors in the 400 and earned IAAF world athlete of the year honors, Richards felt ill with what she thought was the flu.
But the symptoms didn't go away, she had difficulty training and she developed ulcers in her mouth that made it difficult to talk. Finally, she was diagnosed with Behcet's syndrome, a disease that involves inflammation of blood vessels.
Once put on the right medication, Richards recovered enough to compete at the U.S. outdoor championships in June. She ran a then world-best 50.02 in the semifinals but finished fourth in the final and didn't qualify in the event for the world championships.
Asafa Powell, the world record holder in the 100 meters, pulled out of Penn Relays after pulling pectoral muscle while lifting weights last week.
Powell, who ran 9.74 in the 100 in September, was scheduled to run for the Jamaican team in the USA vs. the World 400-meter relay today. Instead, he remained in Florida to undergo treatment.