- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 19, 2009

BERLIN | Sanya Richards dominated a little bit like Usain Bolt. Then she danced a little like him, too.

A big occasion called for the “Dallas Boogie,” a little jig Richards came up with and showed off after winning the 400 meters Tuesday at the world championships.

The debut of the dance was the punctuation on a night that has been a long time in the making. With one trip around the track, Richards showed she can win on the brightest stage. She now has that elusive first major title in her signature event to prove it.

“I’m overwhelmed and excited to be finally standing on top of the podium,” Richards said. “It’s the best feeling in the world.”

Running with confidence and conviction, Richards overwhelmed the field, finishing in 49.0 seconds. She even held off a Jamaican - Shericka Williams - for the win, something that has been difficult for the Americans.

Richards’ top rival, Olympic champion Christine Ohuruogu of Britain, was a distant fifth.

“I just couldn’t match that today,” Ohuruogu said. “Sanya Richards ran a splendid race. … It was a brilliant time. I think she wanted it a little bit more than the rest of us.”

All she had been hearing was how she came up short in big races. The label was gnawing at her.

At last year’s Beijing Olympics, Richards entered as the overwhelming favorite. But she faltered toward the finish when her hamstring tightened. She wound up third.

Another bitter loss.

This was setting up as the latest chapter. Richards is in the midst of another flare-up from Behcet’s syndrome, a rare disorder that causes chronic inflammation of blood vessels throughout the body.

The virus wrecked her season in 2007 when the ulcers inside her mouth and lesions up and down her legs were so bad that Richards couldn’t talk, eat or stretch to run. She entered the U.S. championships that year still struggling with the disease and finished fourth in the 400.

That was then. She now has a better handle on her disease.

“It didn’t get in my mind or in my way,” Richards said. “I enjoyed every step around the track today.”

And then those dance moves afterward - step, step, shuffle. Step, step, shuffle.

Richards had planned to use a shimmy that Bolt recently taught her. But her confidence in it waned at the last second.

“Sorry, Usain, I didn’t do your dance this time,” she said.

With 100 meters to go, though, Richards did conjure up his performance, thinking of the Jamaican when he set the world record a few nights before.

“I told myself, ‘I’m going to channel Usain coming down that last 100,’ ” Richards said. “It was so incredible to watch him run. I didn’t do his dance, but I definitely tried to get some of his energy.”

Bolt seems to have energy to spare these days. He breezed through the first two rounds of the 200 on Tuesday, making it look easy. Hardly pushed in the quarterfinals, Bolt just strolled along, looking around as he leisurely traveled toward the finish line.

“Just trying to get through the rounds,” said Bolt, who advanced to Wednesday’s semifinals. “I’m trying to do it round by round like last year. Then I’ll go to the finals and just execute.”

Note - Moroccan steeplechase runner Jamal Chatbi was suspended for doping before his race Tuesday, the first athlete to test positive at the world championships. The Moroccan track and field federation said he tested positive for the steroid clenbuterol.

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