After missing out onTokyo 2020, Sha'Carri Richardson is back in the Olympics. GETTY IMAGES

The world champion sprinter pounded the track, then her chest in the US Olympic trials in Eugene on Saturday as she won the 100metre race and sealed her ticket for Paris 2024, where she will face stiffer competition from Jamaicans Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Shericka Jackson and Elaine Thompson-Herah.

Three years removed after her devastating release by the national team before the Tokyo Olympics after testing positive for marijuana use, Richardson claimed victory in the women's 100m final with a 10.71sec time on the Oregon track and qualified for the upcoming Summer Games. "I feel honoured," she said. "I feel every chapter I've been through in my life designed and prepared me for this moment. I cannot wait to go to Paris and represent."

Richardson, who had won the heat on Friday despite stumbling out of the gate, came out fine this time and grabbed the lead mid-race with a powerful stride, crossing the finish line with authority while registering the year's world-best time with a wind of 0.8m/sec at Hayward Field. Melissa Jefferson came in second at 10.80 and Twanisha Terry third with a time of 10.89.

Not since Gail Devers in 1996 has an American woman been crowned an Olympic 100m champion, with Jamaica dominating the field; but Richardson hopes to capture Olympic gold in the 100 final at the Stade de France on August 3, where she is expected to battle fierce rivals like Fraser-Pryce, Jackson and Thompson-Herah. Jamaica’s own Olympic trials are scheduled for 27 June. In Paris, the Texan will also try for 200m race, as well as the women’s 4x100 relay team.

She appeared all but set to challenge the US drought in the ramp-up for the pandemic-delayed Tokyo 2020 Games after winning at the US trials in 10.86 in 2021, but dreams of Olympic glory were shattered when it was revealed she had tested positive for marijuana, resulting in a one-month suspension that prevented her from attending. Plans to revive her career at the 2022 World Championships failed when she bombed out of the US trials. However, she roared back into form in 2023 with a thrilling 100m triumph at the world championships in Budapest, taking the crown in a championship record time of 10.65sec.

After missing out on Tokyo 2020, Sha'Carri Richardson is back in the Olympics. GETTY IMAGES
After missing out on Tokyo 2020, Sha'Carri Richardson is back in the Olympics. GETTY IMAGES

The 24-year-old Texan won her preliminary heat on Friday in 10.88, leading all qualifiers despite a slight stumble at the start, and won her Saturday semi-final in 10.86, the best time of any finalist despite a slow start. She was behind again at the start of the final but quickly made up the time and charged to victory. "Definitely didn't have the best start, but had a better start than my other rounds," said Richardson, who won her only prior 100 at May's Prefontaine Classic in Eugene in 10.83.

After winning last year’s national championship, Richardson declared that “I’m not back, I’m better,” later won the world title and now seems ready to prove her new slogan true at the Paris Games.

In other Saturday results at the US trials, reigning men's 100m world champion Noah Lyles led all semi-final qualifiers from men's preliminary heats in 9.92. He cruised to victory in the first of five 100m men's heats with Christian Coleman, the 2019 100m world champion, second in 9.99.

It's a redemption run for Lyles, who failed to qualify for the 100m final at the Tokyo Olympics and settled for bronze in a 200m final where he was among the favourites.

"I felt like I just had blown a huge opportunity," Lyles said. "The more I look back at it, the more I'm like, 'Wow, if I never had that moment happen, I would have never produced what I've done up to now.'"

Lyles knows the pressure is high for success in France even after his world titles in the 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay last year. "I know for people to take notice of me, an Olympic gold medal is needed," he said. Top five finishers in each of five heats plus the next two fastest runners reached the semi-finals, where Sunday's finalists will be decided.

Lyles ended any suspense, winning by .08 of a second over Kenny Bednarek in the opening heat with a 0.2m/sec tailwind. He was never going to threaten his season best of 9.85 or his personal best of 9.83. "I had to make sure that my first 10 steps were powerful and open and after that I stood up," he explained. "I knew I had the race in me. I knew I had it clear by 60 meters, which is why I ran more 60s this indoor season. And from there I just shut it down."

In the men's shot put, two-time reigning Olympic champion Ryan Crouser won the chance to defend his crown with an effort of 22.84m. "Surprised myself a little bit," Crouser. "That's a good sign."

Joe Kovacs, the Rio and Tokyo Olympic runner-up to Crouser, was second at 22.43 to book his Paris trip as well. Crouser, also the two-time reigning world champion, set the world record of 23.56m last year but has been nagged by injuries this year.

Other US trials wins went to Heath Baldwin in the decathlon and Jasmine Moore in the women's triple jump.