Nearly banging elbows with runners on both sides of her -- and with the defending champion, Britain's Christine Ohuruogu, making up ground on the outside -- Richards-Ross got stronger over the last 100 meters.
She surged to the finish, won by about a body's length and punched her fist when she crossed the line in 49.55 seconds Sunday night to give the United States its first track and field gold medal of the London Olympics.
|Jacksonville Jaguars CB Aaron Ross (left) and wife Sanya Richards-Ross celebrate her gold medal-winning run in the 400 meters Sunday at the London Olympics.|
"I just kept saying, 'You can do this, you can do this," Richards-Ross said. "I just dug really deep, and I'm very happy."
At the end, she wrapped herself in the American flag and went to the stands to embrace her husband, who took time off from training camp to travel to London.
"You finally did it, you finally did it, babe," he told his wife. "Enjoy the moment."
Ross, who received special permission from the Jaguars to attend the Olympics, admitted Thursday on NFL Network's "NFL AM" that his wife is faster than him.
"I might get her in the 40," he joked. "(In the) 100, I might lean at the line. 200, I don't have a chance, and the 400 -- I wouldn't even get on the track."
Ross has two Super Bowl rings, won when he played for the New York Giants. His wife now has an individual gold to go with two others she won in previous Olympic relays, with more possible in this year's relays.
"We don't compete," Richards-Ross said. "His Super Bowl ring just gave me motivation."
Said Ross: "She worked so hard. All the emotions going through her mind, my mind, her family's mind, everybody that's seen the struggles. It just a great moment right now."
Ross, who initially was denied entry to his wife's post-race news conference, will return to Jacksonville on Monday. He's scheduled to land in the afternoon, but he has been excused from that day's practice, according to The Associated Press.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.