After being a heavy favorite in 2008, Richards-Ross was overtaken at the end of the race to wind up with a bronze—leaving her devastated. She had to wait four years to try it again, and this time she didn’t fade at the end.
In fact, Richards-Ross actually got stronger at the end, battling her competitor Christine Phuruogu of Britain, the defending champion, each step of the way to come away with a victory in 49.55 seconds. Ohuruogu finished second in 49.70 and American DeeDee Trotter, with a face covered in red, white and blue glitter, won the bronze in 49.72.
It was the first track and field gold medal of the London Olympics for the United States. But before you start celebrating that the American sprinters finally bested Jamaica, you should know this—Richards-Ross, 27, was born in Kingston, Jamaica, and moved to the United States at the age of 12. So even when America gets a gold, it’s still cause for celebration in Jamaica.
After she had completed her gold medal winning race, Richards-Ross wrapped herself in the American flag—she became a U.S. citizen in 2002, when she was 17—and went to the stands to embrace her husband, Jacksonville Jaguars defensive back Aaron Ross, who was given permission by the Jaguars to leave training campt to travel to London for his wife. During the semifinals the night before, Richards-Ross said it was extra special for him to be in London with her.
“You finally did it, you finally did it, babe,” he told his wife in the stands. “Enjoy the moment.”