EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — Sha’Carri Richardson never made it to the start, let alone the finish, of the 200 meters at the last Olympic trials.

At these trials, even in the opening round of what’s really her second-best race, she flashed another glimpse of the kind of sprinter who has emerged from all that trouble three years ago.

Bursting from the starting block and turning the curve into her own, personal glidepath, Richardson was able to slow down over the final 20 meters Thursday night and still won her opening round in 21.99 seconds.

That she pulled up and still recorded only the third sub-22 showing of her career at 200 meters was a sign she just might be as dangerous in the longer sprint as the 100 she dominated last weekend.

“It’s just focusing in on executing the curve and making the straightaway much easier,” said Richardson, whose trials came to an abrupt halt three years ago when she tested positive for marijuana after winning the 100. “I feel like I did that excellent(ly) but I always have room for improvement.”

Noah Lyles also returned to Hayward Field and opened his run at the 200 title with a no-fuss win — a 20.10-second cruise through the preliminary round.

Joining Richardson and Lyles at Hayward Field for the second half of the trials were Gabby Thomas, the 200-meter bronze medalist in Tokyo, and Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone, the defending Olympic champion and world-record holder in the 400 hurdles. Both moved through their opening rounds with ease, as well.

More Sha’Carri

Asked by NBC’s Lewis Johnson if she felt the pressure was off now that she knows she’ll be heading to Paris in the 100, Richardson said that was far from the case.

“Any time I touch the track it’s an opportunity for me to work on my best self, to be my best self,” she said. “Any time I touch the track it’s pressure.”

As for the warm welcomes she’s been receiving from the Hayward Field crowd over her long stay in Eugene, she said she was grateful.

“I feel as if they sense growth, they sense genuine love and they sense the responsibility I know I have when it comes to my talent as well as my sport,” she said.

Noah Lyles

Lyles, who showed up in a white track suit with a silver choker and a set of his beloved Yu Gi Oh! cards, was practically jogging by the time he reached the finish line of a heat he won by .18 over Courtney Lindsey.

“I feel I was able to do exactly what I needed to do,” he said. “And I was able to save extra energy.”

Maybe the most interesting news in the sprint game Thursday came out of Jamaica, where Kishane Thompson ran 9.82 in the opening round of that country’s national championships; Lyles won his 100 at U.S. trials in 9.83.

McLaughlin-Levrone

Last time she raced on the track at Hayward Field, McLaughlin-Levrone set the world record (50.68 seconds). This time, she ran 53.07 for her opening round of the 400 hurdles, which might not seem that great, but that’s time that would have won the Olympic gold medal in 2016.

This was only McLaughlin’s second 400 hurdles race of the year. She spent most of 2023 and the start of this year either dealing with injuries or working on the 200 and 400 flat races before heading back to the hurdles. She told NBC she recently lost the nails on both her big toes.

Gabby Thomas

Thomas ran 22.11 for the second-best time of the 200 heats, behind Richardson. She had originally been entered in the 400, as well, but dropped that race to focus on her specialty.

“Just laser-focused on the 200, and didn’t want to jeopardize that,” she said.

Tara Davis-Woodhall

The long jumper hasn’t lost a meet this year, and was what they call a “one and done” for her qualifying round of trials.

Davis-Woodhall overcame what she called a rough start to her morning — “I actually started my cycle today, and that was pretty rough,” she said — and jumped 6.93 meters (22 feet, 9 inches) on her first attempt, then called it a night. She finished first with that jump and advances to Saturday’s final.

“This qualifying round has a little scar on my mind,” said Davis-Woodhall, who failed to qualify for the worlds team in 2022 after faulting on all three jumps in qualifying. “So, I’m super, super thankful that I got it out of the way.”

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AP Summer Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/2024-paris-olympic-games