Johnson, Richardson take gold

Published 10:04 pm Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The city of Suffolk and Nansemond River High School were on full display last weekend out of the country. Two impressive performances by former Nansemond River standouts Brandee’ Johnson and Syaira Richardson have put them in some impressive company.

Johnson took the gold medal in the 400-meter hurdles at the Pan American Games in Peru with a time of 56.65. In June, Johnson also took the gold at the USATF Junior Nationals meet, which qualified her for Peru.

Johnson said she felt good and confident going into the meet. She was prepared as well as she thought she could be. After the USATF Junior Nationals meet, Johnson wanted to make the best of her trip to Peru. After having an up-and-down freshman year at Florida, she felt good about where her confidence stood and thought winning the gold at the USATF meet was one of the highlights of her first year. It goes without saying that taking the gold in Peru also adds to that.

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Prior to the race, Johnson said she warmed up confidently and was prepared mentally and physically for what was going to happen.

Syaira Richardson celebrates after being part of a record-breaking 4×400 team that won gold at the Pan America Games. Richardson ran the first leg on a team that finished with a time of 3:28.

“No matter the push I was going to get, I knew was going to be able to handle it and was strong enough to close,” Johnson said. “At the start of the gun I knew I had to get out, so I got out and kept pushing.”

After getting off to a good start, Johnson said she tuned everything else out around her and felt like she was running by herself. When the race was over, she was shocked and celebrated by throwing up the VA symbol (two fingers up, two fingers down) followed by a Gator Chomp.

Johnson left Peru excited for what’s to come in her sophomore year. She will spend the rest of her summer in Gainesville, Fla., training before school starts.

“I’m very optimistic about what’s to come,” she said. “I’m going to take a couple of weeks of vacation with my family then come back like a monster ready to go.”

Richardson ran the first leg on the 4×400 team that took the gold medal. Team USA ran a time of 3:28:57, which broke the previous meet record of 10 years.

“It felt good to run the first leg and put my team in position to win and break the meet record,” Richardson said.”

Last year Richardson ran on the 4×400 team, but she ran the prelims and not the final race. This time around she was able not only to run in the finals but also to be a part of history. She felt more comfortable this time around.

“I felt more prepared and confident coming in, since I had a little more experience,” Richardson said. “This experience was definitely a good one. It means a lot to be able to see my hard work pay off and represent my country and bring home the win.”

Richardson will be going back to Ohio State University for the summer until school starts. Both Johnson and Richardson were also proud to represent for team WAR.