Olympic Gold Medalist Sanya Richards-Ross On Pregnancy, Fitness And Retirement

by Mary Kate Hoban

Sanya Richards-Ross is a four-time Olympic track and field gold medalist, accomplished entrepreneur and soon-to-be new mom.

She went to the University of Texas in 2003 and quickly turned pro after her sophomore year, going on to compete at the 2004, 2008 and 2012 Olympics in the 400 meter and the 4x400 meter relay.


After holding the title of No. 1 400-meter runner in the world for much of her career, Richards-Ross ran her final race last year and is currently embracing retirement (if you can call it that, because she's busier than ever).

She and her husband, two-time Super Bowl Champion Aaron Ross, are excitedly expecting their first child -- a boy -- later this year.

Recently, Sanya partnered up with Capital One for its Banking Reimagined Tour -- "a hands-on digital experience on wheels" that aims to start the conversation about planning for your financial future.

The connection between finances and athletics is actually pretty simple when you think of it in terms of goal setting.

With summer around the corner -- and tax season just wrapping up -- fitness, eating healthy and not maxing out your credit card on rooftop happy hours are all extremely timely topics of interest.

And if there's anyone you want to take advice from when it comes to food or fitness or finances, 32-year-old Richards-Ross is definitely a solid choice.

Elite Daily got the chance to sit down and talk with Sanya about her retirement, her pregnancy, how she's staying fit post-competition and her advice for millennials when it comes to money.

ED: How difficult was your decision to officially retire last year?

SRR: I had been running since I was 7, so for all of my life, all that I knew was to be on the track and competing... But I truly believe that every good thing comes to an end and I was truly blessed throughout my career to have some of the greatest experiences of my life.

When I was 9, I told my teacher I'd be an Olympic champion and I actually accomplished it. When I ran my final race in 2016 in Eugene at the Olympic Trials, it was bittersweet. I loved the experience of stepping on the track one last time and I was definitely very emotional about it, but I did feel like it was the right time and I think in life that we all go through transition and so I'm just excited about this phase in my life.

I'm certainly going to miss it a lot, but yeah, I'm really grateful for all the success I had on the track and I'm hoping those things will fuel me to move forward to some other great things in my life.

When I was 9, I told my teacher I'd be an Olympic champion and I actually accomplished it.

ED: What do you think running and competing at such an elite level taught you about life? How did it prepare you for your endeavors off the track?

SRR: I've actually started three businesses already, some of them during my career and one most recently since I retired, and I just feel really good about trying and if it doesn't work, learning from my mistakes and pushing forward toward my ultimate goals.


I have learned how to be humble in victory, but also how to be humble in defeat. I think that's one of the greatest lessons I've learned from sports. And goal setting and hard work and proficiency -- all of those things definitely translate -- but I do think that in every business venture there are always new things that I have to learn and I have to be prepared to study and do the work.

In track, people always say put in your 10,000 hours before you ever stand on that podium and so we do those same things in our business. We put in those work hours and then believe we can be successful.

I have learned how to be humble in victory, but also how to be humble in defeat.

ED: What was your diet like when you were training and how has it changed since retirement?

SRR: You know what's funny, my diet hasn't really changed much... We're from Jamaica and my mom and dad never ate red meat or pork. So I always only ate white meat, chicken and fish, and I'm kind of a boring eater, as well. I think that has been reflected throughout my career... I just kind of eat to live, I don't live to eat. So I always kept a really clean diet.

I had high-protein diets. I would have lots of chicken breasts and I would juice my fruits and vegetables to make sure I was having a really good colorful diet. I drank tons of water and also when I was training I would supplement with protein shakes because of course with the weight lifting and all the running, you're burning so much that you're putting in the protein to feed your muscles.

So always just a very clean diet -- high protein, low carbs, lots of liquids. And lots of rest. I mean, I always say that eating is one thing, but it's also about your rest and recovery and all those things that help you to be an elite athlete.

ED: How has your fitness routine changed, particularly now that you are pregnant?

SRR: I think more my mental approach than my physical approach has changed to my training. I used to go in the gym and I would have really high goals, lofty goals that I would go in there and always attempt to achieve, but now I go in and I just want to listen to my body. I have fun when I work out. I still do a lot of the same things. So I'm still weight lifting. I was running up until recently... but I'm still doing biking and stair-master and elliptical... and weight lifting with my mom, which has been a lot of fun.


I think for me, since I love being active, I know it's going to benefit me when I give birth... but I don't put a lot of pressure on myself. If I go one or two days and I get too busy to work out, it's a different mentality. Before that never happened, but now I allow myself to have those days.

ED: What made you want to partner with Capital One for the Banking Reimagined Tour?

SRR: I think that this is an exciting time in my life... and for so long I've been a career woman, but even then, I haven't always felt very confident about my personal finances, and so I feel like this is kind of the perfect time for me, and I think so many people out there are just like me who want to feel more empowered about their personal finances.

I feel like Capital One is doing just that with their cafes, their money coaches that really help to kind of drill down into what your life goals are, your passions are and how you can accomplish those things by being financially responsible.

ED: Why do you think this campaign is specifically relevant for millennials?

SRR: I think the younger you are, it's kind of the best time for you to become more aware and in touch with what you should be doing with your personal finances. As an athlete, I always just focused on running. I was very fortunate to have good people around me who took good care of me, but even I wish I would have spent a little more time focusing on how I could have invested my money better and how I could have prepared myself for my future.

So I think for young people, it's the perfect time to have opportunities like this and when I think about the tour and just how visual it is and the touch-screen and all these things [young people] have become so accustomed to, I think they're perfect people to take advantage of the opportunity.

ED: Is there anything you wish you could tell your younger self when it comes to money? Do you have any advice for college students or those just graduating?

SRR: I guess what I would have told my younger self would be just to take some time out to go to places that can educate me on my personal finances. So like now, with this cafe, I think about how many times I have sat in a Starbucks and talked to friends about things that, yeah they seemed cool at the time, but they wouldn't have the lasting effects of being able to speak to a money coach or life coach.

So I think it's really about just taking a little bit of time out of your schedule to focus on finances 'cause at the end of the day it's really at the base of everything that we do...

I absolutely think it's just about taking the time out to find the knowledge... I feel like opportunities like this help you to really fine tune that and get you on the right track.

ED: Is there anything that has surprised you about pregnancy?

SRR: So I've had a very very good pregnancy. I haven't had any morning sickness and most of the times I forget I'm pregnant, but the funniest thing is one of my favorite cheat days, 'cause I used to on my diet allow every Saturday and Sunday I'd have a cheat day -- not a cheat day, a cheat meal, so not the entire day... I'd have like pizza, or ice cream or french fries or something. And my cousin told me, I'll never forget, she was like, “Wait til you eat pizza pregnant, you're going to love it.” And I haven't!

I can't believe how blah pizza has tasted since I've been pregnant… it's disappointing... So hopefully I'll get my pizza tastebuds back after the baby!

ED: What do you want to teach your son about health and fitness?

SRR: My husband and I have both agreed that we're definitely not going to force our son into sports… The one thing that he and I both agree on was that when we were younger, the best part of sports was just having fun and enjoying it... It really is the importance of a healthy lifestyle and that goes well beyond football or track and field. Just to have really good habits when you're young because that helps you to have a longer and healthier life.

I think a good parent just kind of guides and gently points you in the right direction... So that's what my husband and I want to do when it comes to health and wellness and fitness and everything that we're going to approach with him, we're going to do our best to do it that way.

Sanya also has a book, "Chasing Grace," coming out June 6, which she describes as an "inspirational memoir with many of [her] most personal stories and struggles, and then of course [her] great victories and triumphs."

To take Sanya's advice and really start thinking about your financial goals, you can check out the Banking Reimagined Tour here. For more inspiration from an incredibly fit and driven mom-to-be, her Instagram is a great place to start.