South Carolina’s Jason Richardson won the 110m hurdles title on the final day of the NCAA Outdoor Championships with a time of 13.40. It is his first NCAA title after finishing third twice outdoors and as the runner-up indoors this season. The Gamecock men finished 18th and the women were 22nd.
"I couldn’t sleep last night. I was plagued with doubt from yesterday’s race and felt haunted by the idea that a national championship title could be slipping from my grasp. The clock read 3:00am and I would lay on my back for the next hour vacillating on all the different scenarios that could play out during my NCAA final race, none of which I liked save for a National Championship winning run.
I managed to will myself back to sleep only to be awaken by my screaming phone alarm alerting me that it was time for shake out. After a light sweat, I grabbed breakfast, chilled in the hotel and tried to keep myself from thinking too much about my upcoming race. I couldn’t sleep a wink and found myself making identifiable shapes out of the random bumps in the ceiling. The time to leave for the meet neared as I showered and dressed for the meet.
Arriving at the track I was oddly calm, but it would only be the calm before the storm. I tried to listen to music as a distraction, but the sublimated fear of losing was forever present. I’d lost before, so why would this time be a big deal? The answer lies in how close I would actually be to winning. This is the first nationals I’m favored to win, and the first nationals where it would be my race to lose. I warmed up, stretched and got race ready in hopes of putting together one of the best races of my life.
Thirty minutes before the race I was in the clerk tent with my competition, staring into the eyes of my fellow hurdlers all in search of the same elusive title. I saw confidence, nervousness, fear, distress and passion all in the pupils of my competitors. I wonder what my own would read?
I was going to vomit. I felt like my stomach was running its own hurdle race, going up and down. I was in the starting blocks almost frozen with fear. I had a pep talk with myself, shook some nerves and willed myself to remember the technical cues of my race. The next 13 seconds could change my life.
The gun went off and I was left in the blocks. Ty Atkins had his characteristic blazing start that left me confused and disoriented in the blocks. I stayed focus on my race and dug to the finish line. This was my last attempt at finishing my season on top, I drove through hurdle four, Ty Atkins was keeping me from my seasonal goal, and I drove through hurdle five, six, and seven. Hurdle eight I was in the lead and I would stop at nothing until I crossed the finish line victorious. Two hurdles latter I would be crowned the 2008 110 Hurdle Champion.
It didn’t hit me, and as I write this it still hasn’t hit me. To see my seasonal goals come to fruition is an amazing blessing that I thank God for every minute of every day that I can. I did some post race interviews and went to drug testing. Though the process is somewhat of an inconvenience, I will gladly take it in stride. I brought home a National Championship to Carolina.
Tonight I’m having fun and celebrating. This journey has not been without its up and downs, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Till next time… well, I guess there won’t be a next time. Though it’s been a long time coming, I’m finally going out on top."