Sha’Carri Richardson documentary to debut at Sundance

by Ezekiel J. Walker
sha'carri richardson race
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The pandemic has introduced the sports world to a number of up and comers, but few have been as polarizing as track standout Sha’Carri Richardson.

Her documentary will be featured at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.  

Dripping in Blackness from head to toe, she embodies a soulful spirit of the uncompromised and unchained. Her familiar dialect and aesthetic speaks to a culture that knows her well and roots for her with admiration and affection. 

Yet the love and support are not only because of her signature style, but what she does on the track

In a sport defined by speed and skill, Sha’carri used both to qualify for the 2021 Olympics Trials, only one week after losing her biological mother. Most casual sports fans didn’t know her or her story, but the post-race interview and embrace from her grandmother told us everything we needed to know.

When speaking about her family Richardson stated, “Without them, there would be no me. Without my grandmother – there would be no Sha’Carri Richardson. So my family is everything, everything until the day I’m done.”

Sha'carri Richardson

Jamaica’s Elaine Thompson-Herah, left, wins the 100 meters, as American track and field sprinter Sha’carri Richardson, center, also competes, Saturday, Aug. 21, 2021, at the Prefontaine Classic track and field meet in Eugene, Ore. Richardson finished in last place. (AP Photo/Thomas Boyd)

Documentary produced by the late Virgil Abloh

With a recent spotlight on mental health, 2021 was a reminder that athletes are indeed very human too. Stars such as Naomi Osaka and Simone Biles recently spoke out about their personal struggles while balancing both a personal life and professional career – Sha’Carri was no different.

In an interview on TODAY Richardson detailed the crippling loss of her mother and using cannabis to cope with the pain. Yet as a result of a positive drug screening, she accepted responsibility and was consequently disqualified for the 2021 Summer Olympic Games.

After serving a month suspension from the sport she loves, Richardson returned nine weeks later at the Prefontaine Classic Diamond League. Yet far from her own and fan expectations, she placed at the back of the 100 meter race before literally swearing (on NBC) to avenge her career.

In the short time we’ve known her, we’ve already witnessed the classic Hollywood “Rise and Fall” story. Yet like a true artist he was, the recently deceased yet forever insightful Virgil Abloh knew there was more story to tell. 

Audiences at this year’s Sundance Film Festival will be gifted Abloh’s executive produced documentary on Richardson “Sub Eleven Seconds” and in the foreshadowed words of Sha’Carri after placing last at the Prefontaine:

“Congratulations to the winners. But they not done seeing me yet. Period.”

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