Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Sanya Richards-Ross goes for the gold to offer help

Photo from sanyarichardsross.com.
Jamaican-American sprinter Sanya Richards-Ross just qualified for her third Olympics with a strong performance at the U.S. Olympic Trials, setting a course record in the 400 meters.

She's determined to make this a better time in London than four years ago in Beijing:
Richards-Ross has a chance to erase a bad memory in London. She was a disappointed third in Beijing in 2008 but returned in 2009 to win the world championship in the 400. But the loss at the Olympics still stings and it has served as motivation for four years.

She has also dealt with a mysterious illness, which may have been originally misdiagnosed. In 2007, doctors told her she had Behcet's syndrome, an illness that caused lesions on her skin and sores in her mouth among a variety of other symptoms. She underwent treatment for Behcet's through 2010 when she was having a particularly difficult bout.

At that point, Richards-Ross was referred to another doctor, who diagnosed her with a treatable skin disease. Since then the pain that flared in her joints has dissipated and her workouts have flourished.
It's that same refusal to quit that leads into her charitable life. 

Fittingly, her primary charity is known as the Fast Track Program. Richards-Ross is working to improve literacy and math skills in her native Jamaica through this charity, which partners with the nation's government. Full grade level improvement has been reported in many cases.

But that's not the only charitable work for the woman named Visa Humanitarian of the Year. She's part of the Livestrong charitable athletes' team of cancer survivor Lance Armstrong, for example. And, she has a scholarship program and other charitable activities, too.

Keep an eye on her on the track in London; as her bio notes, she's run more sub-50 400s than any other woman in history.

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