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On Her Way To The Olympics, Sanya Richards-Ross Honors Black Excellence


Sanya Richards-Ross needs another dose.

The 30-year-old track star is well aware of the doubts surrounding her bid to defend the gold medal she won in the 400-meter race at the 2012 Olympics in London. Still, she is no less determined to earn another hit of her one addiction.

History is calling Richards-Ross, direct from the site of the 2016 summer games in Rio de Janeiro.

There is only one way she can answer: with a redemptive year that would see her make it onto Team USA's roster for the Rio Olympics, particularly after failing to qualify for her signature event at the World Championships during an injury-plagued 2015.

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But first, there's business to take care of.

With Black History Month having kicked off this week, Richards-Ross and her two-time Super Bowl-winning husband, former New York Giant Aaron Ross, have focused their attention on more charitable efforts.

On Friday, the Rosses will be hosting their second annual Black Excellence tribute, an event designed to showcase African-American talent in the creative arts, honor black role models and give back to local causes.

Richards-Ross's efforts, however, are unapologetically black, and her motivation for them being so is clear.

It's no surprise, then, that the beneficiaries of the first Black Excellence Tribute were families of victims of police brutality.

This year, though, proceeds will go toward the African American Youth Harvest Foundation, an organization Richards-Ross says has a "fantastic track record" for supporting educational programs for Black youth.

As for the artists on display, many of them are performers Richards-Ross and her husband enjoy themselves.

Houston's A.J. McQueen, for instance, caught the Rosses eye at a Black Lives Matter event, while they noticed Newark's Jasmine Mans after she wrote a notable poem to Kanye West.

The Power Of Representation

No matter how positive her intentions are, the banner of (specifically) "Black Excellence" that Richards-Ross is choosing to showcase could easily draw skeptical looks.

Why, some might ask, is there a particular need shine a light on "black" excellence? Why not just showcase excellence from all people in all communities?

The most cynical critics might even argue that exalting the idea of black excellence is an example of one community blatantly excluding others.

On this subject, Richards-Ross's comprehensive thoughts on the power of representation are worth the slightly longer reading, even in an age where the smallest soundbites with the least context make the most noise.

Road to Rio

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At some point, perhaps maybe the very day after her Black Excellence Tribute ends, Richards-Ross will go back to the gym.

On her mind will likely be the only possible thing that there could be: a return to the summer Olympics games.

Now, at 30, Richards-Ross says her training is all about working smarter, not harder, as she tries to battle back to the big Olympic stage, where she hopes to defend her London gold in the 400-meter and the 4x400-meter relay.

She's right, too: The US Olympic team trials in track and field are the most important thing in her path at this moment.

She has been a mainstay racing the 400 on the American relay team and as an individual, but nothing is guaranteed this time around.

While her focus remains on the short term, though, she is still aware of the great prize that could be at the end of this long run.

And if Richards-Ross does accomplish that, she will have truly saved the best for last in her career, all while showcasing a little bit of her own black excellence.

For more info on the Black Excellence Tribute, follow Sanya Richards-Ross on Instagram.