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April 8, 2008

South Carolina redshirt-junior Jason Richardson defeated the defending NCAA champion in the 110m hurdles last weekend (Auburn’s Ty Atkins) to grab the fastest time in the world this season. Richardson, who runs the difficult 110m hurdles-400m hurdles double, will run the 400m hurdles at the South Carolina State Meet in Columbia on Wed., April 8. The following are a few comments from Richardson on the eve of the meet.

What events are you running at the State Meet on Wednesday?

JR – The 400m hurdles. My goal is 50 point. It will be tough because it’s a pretty laid-back meet. It’s in the middle of the week so clearly it’s laid back. If I can go 50 point it’s indicative of my fitness level. But either way I am going all out because I have nothing else to do.

You missed winning the NCAA title indoors by less than three thousands of a second (you ran 7.530 and the winner ran 7.527). What did you think afterwards?

JR – My first initial reaction was of course disappointment because I had run the same time – it came up as the same time on the scoreboard. But considering the circumstances of me redshirting last year and struggling at the beginning of the year, I had to count my blessings and keep it moving. I couldn’t really go back thinking if I did this or that. I took a positive outlook going into nationals and ran faster each round, getting better. That is really all I could ask for. I leaned at the tape as hard as I could, I almost fell.

Outdoors, you have the second-fastest legal time in the world right now. You ran a 13.45 at the Auburn meet last weekend to beat the defending NCAA champion in Ty Atkins from Auburn.

JR – For me to be ranked so highly in the world is one not only a testament that I am better outdoors than indoors, but also that I feel like I am ready to turn to the professional ranks and compete at that level. I love Carolina, I love the team and I am looking to exhaust my eligibility (meaning he will come back next year for a full year as he redshirted last year due to injury), I am also looking forward to running professionally next summer.

What are your goals this season?

JR – I keep my numeric goals personal. They are on my wall next to a bible verse. My objective is walk away from the NCAA meet as the hurdle champion – I don’t want to be the 110m hurdle champion or the 400m hurdle champion – I want to be the hurdles champion. I want to be the first to succeed in the double in something like 30 years. When they didn’t have as many people running track back then it was kind of easy to run it and win. That’s my goal this year.

What do you enjoy running more – the 110m hurdles or the 400m hurdles?

JR – The 110s. It’s a race that comes more naturally. I have an uphill battle when it comes to the 400m hurdles. I haven’t had a good collegiate career when it comes to the 400m hurdles, but this year is different. I decided finally I am going to take time to learn the event, learn the race pattern and put 100% into the event. It always helps to have training partners, but to have two guys like Jussi and Johnny – arguably top five hurdlers in the country – it helps even more. Everyday at practice is as competitive as a nationally-ranked meet.

Johnny Dutch and Jussi Heikkila. Jussi is from Finland and Johnny is from North Carolina. How does that work for a young man from Texas like yourself?

JR – We are all three from different cultures. It provides a different prospective. Jussi has the technical background. He really understands the race and he understands how to coach others and himself. Johnny represents the freshman drive to prove oneself and do well. When he steps out on the track, he is going to run hard when the gun goes off. I am the raw natural talent bucking the system, but I am learning from both of them what it takes.

Do you see yourself making the Olympics team in 2008? 2012?

JR – I am pushing for 2012. I am pushing for 2008, but I am a realist and 2008 might be too early especially in America. America is very deep. We have the top hurdlers in the world and for me to come out of college would be a challenge with the length of the season and the heightened competitiveness of the event itself.

You’ve bought into Coach Frye’s system this spring.

JR – I guess you could say that. When you complain, when you have tension with the coach, drama with your teammates and you are home sick, the solution to everything is one good redshirt season. It makes you evaluate your passion for the sport, how much you are willing to achieve and if you really believe in yourself to come back from injury. Once you do that, all the minor things don’t matter.

It sounds like Jason Richardson has grown up. Yes?

JR – No! My passion and my belief has grown so yes.

You are pretty smart and funny. And have been around quite a bit. What’s the funniest story you would tell about track? Keep it clean.

JR – to me everything’s funny. Every day something funny happens. We have fun at practice everyday – the point of getting in trouble. We always have something to laugh at. Derek Pressley, Kettiany Clarke, Jamil James and Porche Bryd.

For those fans that might know you, answer these questions please. What is greatest accomplishment?

JR: Making it out of college alive. I graduate May 10th and I will take some graduate classes next year. If they make me, I am allergic to school work right now. I am working hard to graduate this semester.

What’s your favorite quote?

JR: It’s really long. “I must learn to love the fool in me – the one who feels too much, talks too much, takes too many chances, wins sometimes and loses often, lacks self-control, loves and hates, hurts and gets hurt, promises and breaks promises, laughs and cries. It alone protects me against that utterly self-controlled, masterful tyrant whom I also harbour and who would rob me of human aliveness, humility and dignity but for my fool.” It’s by Theodore Rubin.

If you won the lottery, what is the first thing you would buy?

JR – A Starbucks. I would buy a Starbucks, a McDonald’s, a Wal-Mart and a barber shop. I would buy them because they make money themselves.

If you were stranded on an island, what one thing would you want with you?

JR – The lethal injection serum. I don’t want to live on an island all alone (laughing). No really, I’d want the Love and Basketball DVD. I’d watch it over and over. I can probably quote that movie in 65 foreign languages I’ve watched it so much.

What is something people would be surprised to know about you?

JR – I think people would be surprised to know I am not a bad guy. I come off arrogant, cocky, as a know-it-all. I come off as all sorts of things. At the end of the day, I am just a man trying to get by. I love the Gamecocks! The Gamecock is an hard-fighting chicken and I want to do that this season!

Go Cocks!