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Not only that, but she also has the best mark in the 200, clocking 22.09 a week later in New York.

“She’s in a different orbit right now,” her longtime coach, Clyde Hart, said. “She’s doing things in training and in workouts that she’s never done before.”

Partly because she’s feeling healthier than ever. She spent five years fighting an autoimmune disease called Behcet’s syndrome, only to discover that maybe it was misdiagnosed.

A visit to a new doctor last year resulted in a new diagnosis, a new course of treatment and a renewed sense of relief.

With Behcet’s, Richards-Ross experienced ulcers inside her mouth so painful she could barely eat or talk and lesions up and down her legs so piercing she struggled to stretch before running. She was on medication that helped and it led to fewer flare-ups.

Now, she’s being treated for a skin disease and she’s on milder medication.

“I’m off the other ones and I can tell a difference in my training,” Richards-Ross said. “I don’t feel the same fatigue that I used to feel. No more joint pains. I’m very happy and hopefully the worst is behind me.”

Hart has definitely noticed a difference.

So much so that he’s even drawing comparisons to his former student, Michael Johnson, who became the first man to win both the 200 and 400 at the 1996 Atlanta Games.

Sanya’s at the same place Michael was at in 1995 and ‘96, when he broke through and started running record times,” Hart said. “She’s gotten stronger and learned the race a little bit more. I think it’s that time for her.”

Had the races been reversed and the 200 up first, Richards-Ross isn’t sure she would be attempting this challenge. That’s why Felix shied away from the 400, because she doesn’t want anything to interfere with her 200. The 400 comes first on the schedule at both the Olympics and at trials.

Felix attempted the 200-400 double at worlds in South Korea last summer, only to finish second in the 400 and then wind up a disappointing third in the 200, when she didn’t have her customary kick because of fatigue.

“I said from the beginning that what’s most important for me is what’s going to help me run my best 200,” said Felix, who will also run the 100.

Making the 200 team will be no easy task. The field includes not only Felix and Richards-Ross, but also Carmelita Jeter, Bianca Knight and Shalonda Solomon.

“I look forward to seeing the best line up,” said Richards-Ross, who needs to finish in the top three to earn a spot on the Olympic squad.

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