Track and field legend Usain Bolt knows a thing or two about allowing his body of work to speak for itself, and in a recent interview with the New York Post, he expressed his desire to see the same from embattled American sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson.
In July, the 21-year-old made headlines when she lost her opportunity to compete in the Tokyo Olympics after she tested positive for marijuana during the U.S. Olympic Trials in June. In the time since, Richardson finished last in her first race back after her suspension—a race in which she channeled Nicki Minaj in order to taunt her opponents on TikTok beforehand—and drew the ire of Black Twitter after she came for Allyson Felix, who recently became the most decorated American track and field athlete of all time.
Suffice to say, Richardson is in dire need of some mentorship and guidance and who better to help her correct course than the eight-time Olympic gold medalist who hails from Jamaica?
“I would tell Sha’Carri to train harder and to be focused and not say too much,” Bolt told the Post. “If you talk that big talk you have to back it up. So just train hard and focus on that and try to come back do it and then talk about it.”
According to Bolt, Richardson’s penchant for antagonizing her Jamaican competitors has only provided them with more fuel to defeat her—as evidenced by Elaine Thompson-Herah’s dominance both during the Tokyo Olympics and against Richardson shortly thereafter.
“Jamaicans were vexed because she was talking a lot of shit before the actual race, it is just one of those things,” he said. “Jamaicans don’t like when people talk shit about us because we are a very proud people. So if you talk about us we are gonna want you to back it up. It definitely gave those women the extra push [to win.]”
Bolt pointed to his own rivalry with American sprinter Justin Gatlin as having a similar dynamic. Gatlin used a similar approach heading into the 2016 Olympics in Brazil only to finish second to Bolt in the 100-meter final.
“That was my thing with Justin Gatlin—because he’s the one that was always talking—so that gives me that energy like, ‘All right you think you’re gonna win let’s go!’” Bolt said. “It does give you that extra boost to wanna beat that person.”
Trash talk is intrinsic to the competitive nature of sports, but it’s equally important that you back it up with your performance. Sha’Carri is young and has plenty of time to learn from her mistakes; she just has to embrace humility in certain instances and be sure not to alienate her fans, peers, and mentors along the way.