Olympic medalist, Central Virginia-native Brinkley empathizes with Richardson

In this June 19, 2021 photo, Sha'Carri Richardson celebrates after winning the first heat of...
In this June 19, 2021 photo, Sha'Carri Richardson celebrates after winning the first heat of the semis finals in women's 100-meter runat the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials in Eugene, Ore. Richardson cannot run in the Olympic 100-meter race after testing positive for a chemical found in marijuana. Richardson, who won the 100 at Olympic trials in 10.86 seconds on June 19, told of her ban Friday, July 2 on the “Today Show.”(AP Photo/Ashley Landis)(Ashley Landis | AP)
Published: Jul. 9, 2021 at 10:28 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - American sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson’s situation has been well-documented.

Richardson will not compete in the Olympics following a 30-day suspension after testing positive for THC, a chemical found in marijuana. In a heartfelt apology, the 21-year old said she used the drug to cope following the death of her mother.

Those feelings and emotions are things that 2012 Olympic bronze medalist Kellie Brinkley knows all too well. The James River product’s mother passed away while she was in high school.

“It really touched me,” Brinkley said. “I found out my mom passed away on an early Sunday morning, there was a Tuesday-Wednesday track meet I competed in, we buried her on that Thursday. Knowing that you still have to compete and you’re feeling these emotions and this hurt, I completely connected with her in that moment.”

Brinkley, formerly Kellie Wells, competed collegiately at Hampton and bounced back to make the 2012 Olympic team after suffering an injury during the 2008 trials. She would grab the bronze in London in the 100 meter hurdles. Nine years later, she keeps a close eye on the competitors and watches track and field closely.

The former hurdler also describers herself as a big mental health advocate and that’s where she hopes Richardson will take her time to heal.

“My heart goes out to her,” Brinkley said, adding that she hopes Richardson will allow herself a chance to grieve. “I hope that she takes her time to take a step back and just assess the situation.”

Brinkley adds that it’s sad for the sport that Richardson will be unable to compete, but points out that she is young and will be back. As for her suspension, the former Rapid says that the rules are the rules and gives credit to the sprinter for taking responsibility for her actions.

“She said it and she took full accountability, which I love, because that’s part of the growing process and the pain process of looking in the mirror and knowing that this is the decision I’ve made and these are the consequences, and now I just have to pull myself together and move forward.”

Richardson won the 100 meter dash at the Olympic trials in 10.86 seconds, asserting herself as a gold medal contender. Despite the possibility of her suspension expiring prior the running of the 4x100 meter relay, she was not selected to the roster.

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