Series19 Oct 2015

Personal bests – Sanya Richards-Ross


US 400m runner Sanya Richards-Ross (© Getty Images)

The latest athlete to answer our personal bests questions is Olympic 400m champion and US record-holder Sanya Richards-Ross.

The best piece of coaching advice

My best piece of coaching advice came from my long-time coach, Clyde Hart. Early in my career he always told me to be patient. His advice definitely bore fruit at the London 2012 Olympics. I was so disappointed with Olympic 400m bronze in 2008, but I had to remember Coach Hart’s wise words, “Be patient.” It was my patience and perseverance that allowed me to have the best moment of my career, my gold medal moment at the 2012 Olympic Games.

My best friend in athletics

My best friends are Nichole Denby (African 100m hurdles bronze medallist), Bershawn Jackson (2005 world 400m hurdles champion) and Lauryn Williams (2005 world 100m champion). We have been friends for more than 10 years and what makes our friendship special is that we all get along so well and when we are together we laugh non-stop. We’ve also been on so many teams together and shared so many experiences that we’ll always have a lifetime bond.

My best achievement in athletics

My 2012 Olympic 400m gold medal and my 400m US record of 48.70. I always wanted to be an Olympic gold medallist; it was everything I hoped for and more. To fill the one hole in my resume meant the world to me and made all the hard work and previous disappointments worth it. My American record was also very special to me. It came at the end of a long season and I remember I was so happy when I ran the best race of my career to date out of lane seven in Athens.

My best achievement outside of athletics

Marrying the love of my life, Aaron Ross (a professional American footballer). He is the most amazing guy I could have asked for. He is selfless, supportive and kind. It’s awesome having a husband who is also a world-class athlete who completely understands everything it takes to be the best. He is one of my greatest sources of inspiration.

The best pre-competition song

I'm Feeling Myself by Beyonce. I love Beyonce because I feel that she is a hard worker who always gives her best. I admire her confidence and poise. I love her work and aspire to be the best version of myself on the track as well.

My greatest indulgence

Cheese pizza, rum and raisin ice cream, and Skittles. I don’t know why I love these three things so much but I do. I don’t over indulge but I definitely enjoy them from time to time.

My greatest regret

Honestly I don't have many regrets. I've made mistakes and I've been disappointed, but I believe everything happens for a reason and I've learned so much that I don’t really consider any choices I’ve made regrettable.

My greatest disappointment

Failing to win the 400m gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. It was by far the lowest point in my career. I won every other race that season and wanted the Olympic gold more than anything. When I lost, I was devastated. It was my faith and family support that pulled me through and I am so happy I stuck with it and continued to believe.

The best athletics venue

The best venues I’ve competed in are The Bird’s Nest Stadium in Beijing, China, the Letzigrund in Zurich, Switzerland, and Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon. I love all the venues for different reasons. The Bird’s Nest's amazing architecture, Letzigrund's atmosphere, and Hayward Field’s rich history.

The best athlete I’ve ever seen

I’ve seen some amazing athletes perform but only had the opportunity to see a few greats train and I'll never forget watching Maria Mutola before the Prefontaine Classic in 2005. Her workout was absolutely insane and her intensity was unmatched. It was only two days before the meet and she did repeat 300s with active recovery. I had never seen anything like it. It made me realise how hard I would have to work to be the best and motivated me to continue pushing myself.

Steve Landells for the IAAF