Wesley Botton

By Wesley Botton

Chief sports journalist

Teenage sprint sensation Benji Richardson targets World Champs medal

"I'm young, but I'm as good as any of them, and maybe even better."

Carrying the typical bravado which might be expected from a world-class sprinter, teenager Benjamin ‘Benji’ Richardson is full of confidence heading into the World Athletics Championships starting in Budapest this weekend.

The 19-year-old sprinter is the youngest member of the 36-strong South African team for the biennial global spectacle, and while he faces the fastest men in the world in the 100m event, he believes he is ready to shake things up at senior level.

ALSO READ: World Athletics Champs: five stars to watch in the SA team

“There’s always pressure, but I like pressure because that’s when you actually perform your best,” Richardson said before the SA team left for the Hungarian capital earlier this week.

“So hopefully with this responsibility I’ve been given I can show them that I’m young but I’m as good as any of them, and maybe even better.”

Former junior star

Tall and powerful, Richardson has already showcased his talent at international level in the U-20 age group.

He is a three-time medallist at the World Junior Championships and he formed part of the SA team that broke the world U-20 4x100m relay record in 2021.

Benji Richardson, World Athletics U-20 Championships
Benjamin Richardson (right) on the podium after securing 100m bronze at the World Athletics U-20 Championships in Cali last year. Picture: Pedro Vilela/Getty Images

Richardson also formed part of the national senior relay squad which earned silver at last year’s African Championships in Mauritius.

And it is in the relay where he has a real chance to shine in Budapest. Holding a season’s best of 10.10 seconds (just 0.02 outside his personal best) Richardson is ranked 91st in the world this year in the 100m sprint and he could be out of his depth.

In the 4x100m relay, however, he will be joined by sub-10 runners Akani Simbine and Shaun Maswanganyi, along with former World Championships 200m finalist Luxolo Adams, national 200m record holder Clarence Munyai, 21-year-old prospect Sinesipho Dambile and experienced speedster Rivaldo Roberts.

ALSO READ: Sprinters lead the charge for SA athletics team at World Champs

“A medal would be good, and I’ll never say never, but it’s less likely to happen in the 100m,” Richardson admitted ahead of the showpiece.

“I’m there to perform at my best and hopefully make the 100m final, and we are packed with talent in the 4x100m team, so we should be able to come back with a relay medal.”

Read more on these topics


Access premium news and stories

Access to the top content, vouchers and other member only benefits