Sanya Richards Ross, Olympic Champion Sprinter


"I've been moving like crazy since the London Olympics. I'm in New York for Fashion Week, for the shows. I'm going to Rebecca Minkoff, BCBG, Peter Som, Rachel Roy, Alice & Olivia... I love fashion. If I feel good about myself, then I’m happy. I don’t care what people say. Look good, feel good, run good. That’s my mantra. It’s a process—you put your face on first and then you go out, so you look good, which makes you feel good, and then I race after, and I run good.

I started running when I was seven. I’m originally from Jamaica, and in Jamaica, track and field and soccer are the two biggest sports, so most kids, if you’re athletic, you gravitate to one of those. When I came to the States, I was 12 years old, and I was beating everyone in middle school in South Florida where we lived. But actually when I was 9, I penned a note to my teacher saying that I wanted to be an Olympic gold medalist. For a long time, my mom and I would always joked about it. She would always pull out the letter and show me.

I’m 27 now. Usually with the 400-meter, we peak out at 31, 32 years old, so hopefully I’ll be in one more Olympics. I’ll be 31 for the next one—that’s when Michael Johnson broke the world record, when Cathy Freeman won her first Olympics. So, I’m actually still young in this sport, I’ve just been in it so long, people think I’m 31 already.

I do shave my legs, but I don’t think it’s that big of a deal in terms of wind resistance. With my hair, most of the time I’ll pull it back, and have it half up, half down. People always say it slows me down some, but I just like looking fabulous, so I don’t care. [Laughs] It wouldn’t be that dramatic of a difference, anyway. They actually did research on it after my race in London and figured out how much it slowed me down, and they said probably like 1/10 of a second. I think it’s worth it. I’ll work harder in my workouts, so I can get a little bit faster, rather than lose this hair.

My sister and I started our own line of hair extensions, Gemini Strands, about a year ago and we have our own salon, The Hair Clinic, in Austin where we live, which we’ve had for about three-and-a-half years. It's called Gemini Strands because my sister's a Gemini, and you know how Geminis have at least two, if not more personalities? We wanted to have a look for all of your personalities: if you wake up one day, and you want to be long, you can have long hair, you want to be short, you want it to be colored, etc. My entire family is really into fashion. If you saw my grandmother, you’d understand. She’ll get totally decked out to go to the grocery store—I’m talking about a statement necklace, the whole thing. We all love to look nice, we all pay attention to trends, so I just bring that with me to the track because it’s part of who I am. I love to change my look, I love to take risks with my hair—it’s not always long, it’s not always blond. This season, I was blond and wore this braid all season long, which people started calling the ‘SRR braid.’ Actually, after the Olympics, our [Gemini Strands] hair sold out in three days! It’s crazy. We’ve had to make big orders to be able to supply the demand. I'm wearing the curly one: it’s 22 inches, custom color in blond/semi-brown. What I like about it is I can wash it and condition it myself, just treat it like it was real hair. I use Revita High Performance Growth Stimulating Shampoo and Conditioner. I use Mixed Chicks Leave-In Conditioner on it, which is a product that keeps the curl defined. I never leave home without that, or Hicks Smooth Edges, which keeps my 'edges' laying down on the sides—it’s has a softer finish than gel. Then, I use Paul Mitchel Soft Style The Shine spray and It’s A 10 Styling Mousse. I also like It's A 10's Miracle Leave-In for Blondes conditioner for my real hair, to protect it from the heat.

For skincare, I use a product line called Jencare Skin Farm. They’re out of Jamaica. It's very natural. We actually carry it at our salon, because my mom’s used it for 20 years, and if you see her skin, she looks like she’s 30. I use their body scrub and soaps too, but I don’t do anything special for my skin. Honestly, I don’t sweat that badly. It’s funny, I’ll do shoots with Nike and they think they will have to touch up my makeup a lot, but I don’t really sweat. It works out great. Because I was so worked up at the Olympics, that’s probably the most I’ll sweat.

In terms of makeup, I love Maybelline Great Lash Mascara and MAC Eye Kohl in Minted. I use a lot of CoverGirl shadows and MAC Amber Lights Eye Shadow, which is a warm gold. Then, I like Nars concealer and MAC's finishing powder. For lips, I love MAC's Amplified Creme Lipsticks for a pop of color. Otherwise, I like Nars and MAC for glosses. I usually use a combination of glosses when I’m competing, which I learned from my cousin—right now I'm wearing a liner and two colors, for a neutral lip. MAC Lip Pencil in Whirl, MAC Tinted Lipglass in Florabundanceand on top of that is a Nars Lip Gloss in Giza... I’ve been using the same stuff for a while. But I enjoy going to the MAC store and having them do stuff to me and testing out colors…I do it when I don’t have anywhere to go, that’s the trick. If I had somewhere to go, or a meet, that would be a little bit scary. But on a day when I don't have anywhere to be, I’ll let them try different colors and see how they put it together.

One of my favorite brands is Chanel—I love their jewelry and bags and shoes. When I was shopping around to find my ‘Olympic earrings’—I wear earrings every time I run, but I wanted to have something special for the Olympic games—I was at the Chanel store in London and they had a few pairs, and I was like, 'Oh, they’re too small,' but then I saw these, which are kind of opalescent, they change from green to pink, depending on the angle. I put them in and I was like, ‘This is it! These are my Olympic earrings.’  I didn’t think they would make that big of a splash, but everyone was like, ‘Oh my god, girl! It’s Lagerfeld’s first appearance at the Olympic Games. It's a big deal!” But it was cool. I loved it. I haven’t heard from [Chanel], but I need to, though. I wear everything when I run, including my ring. I have a bullet pendant that I wear, too—my mom gave it to me when I was in seventh grade, because I’m ‘faster than a speeding bullet.’ I feel like I  carry a piece of my family around on the track when I wear it.

My splurges: bags and shoes and jewelry. I just got a Chanel bag in London. It was my 'Yay, you won a gold metal' bag—I had five hours in Heathrow, and I knew it wasn’t going to be good. I got a Chanel necklace and bracelet, some Hermès headscarves, some Gucci sunglasses…"

—as told to ITG

Sanya Richards Ross photographed by Emily Weiss in New York on September 3rd, 2012.

Let’s Talk About It! JOIN IN
  • Doutzen

    Oh MY GOD!!!! Best article and subject EVER! She was so phenomenal at the Olympics. And her style is so noticeable even on the track. Well done. I appreciate when you interview black subjects.

  • Sam

    As a runner this was so damn inspiring. Thank you Emily and co. for including such diversity in your subjects, I look forward to reading beauty routines of "non-traditional" subjects like athletes and scientist (remember the biochemist you did a while back? More of that please!)

  • Eat.Style.Play

    She looked amazing during the games, I wondered about her hair too, thanks for featuring her!

  • Fbala

    this is what i like to see.. celebrating diversity in all forms!!Love ITG!!!

  • Nomadic D.

    Love this article! I think it's so great to feature not just fashion bigwigs, but other inspiring folks like athletes like Sanya. Thanks! Oh and, "Olympic earrings"? I love it!

  • Cay

    I really appreciate it that you don't just interview skinny white girls in the beauty and fashion industries! That's an unfortunate rarity in style and beauty blogs. Great article and an amazing woman. I also REALLY want that blue moto jacket...

  • Marsha



  • Beautyidealist

    I was so surprised to see her on ITG this morning! She was amazing at the Olympics in the 400 and the relay! I also noticed the Chanel ear rings and the arm bands! I'm so glad she was profiled ITG-style!

  • Pirapokin

    I LOVED that while she's beasting it out on the track she's still fighting to let her hair down because it doesn't matter WHAT she looks like it's what she does that will speak louder than what she wears/how she wears things.

  • Beladonna

    I love that ITG is finally getting diverse!! Love Love Sanya, discovered her line of weaves through my cousin and I love them.

  • Adeola Naomi

    The greatest post ever here.
    She is amazing and so is the article, as a runner and even a 400 Metre one, I look up to her and I love her style on/off the track, I have seen her and had an autograph from her in 2009 when she was running here in Greece and she is really humble and inspiring!
    Wonderful one.

  • Cate

    OMG!! Seriously, thank you so much for featuring Sanya! I freaked out when I saw her on here!! Awesome choice!

  • JamesP

    She's fine anyway, but that first profile pic is ridiculous!

  • Meghan

    She's so cool. And I feel like if there's any excuse on earth for buying yourself a Chanel bag, "I just won a gold medal" is it.

  • nmcgill

    I love it! Sanya continue on doing you babygirl. It made for one dam good Olympic. Beauty is evidence an you wear it well.

  • Jennifer Monforton

    What a beautiful and talented woman! It's fun to see that we share some favourites from MAC, namely Amber Lights eye shadow and Whirl lip liner. Two truly versatile products. Great article!


  • CeCe

    Yay, love Sanya, she's so unabashedly fab!

  • Lavang


  • HRG

    I love that you did a story on her! I remember thinking while watching the Olympics how beautiful all the runners are - insane!

  • Tea

    What a great addition to the Face series....just because people work in different careers doesnt mean they care about style and beauty any less. Just fabulous.

  • Samantha

    Ah!! I remember watching her win the gold, and thinking, "That gold medal is sure going to look good with those Chanel earrings!" She looked so fabulous, and I LOVED it. Pleaseee do one of the swimmer athletes! As someone who's been in the pool almost as often as not since I was six or so, I would LOVE to hear what girls like Missy or Natalie do to for beauty outside the pool.

  • Chipostyling

    Nice one! Big up to Sanya. She's fabulous!

  • Rukiya Anthony

    Thank you for this interview! She is inspiring and I'm so overjoyed that you all support diversity!!