June 25, 2010 / 3:25 AM / 9 years ago

Richards-Ross needs strong finish in year's first 400m

CHICAGO (Reuters) - World champion Sanya Richards-Ross needed to work to win her first 400 meters of the season, a preliminary race at the U.S. national championships in Des Moines, Iowa on Thursday.

“I really had to come home strong,” Richards-Ross, who has been sidelined since April by a quadriceps strain and a flare-up of Behcet’s disease, told reporters after claiming the early round race in 51.91 seconds.

The time equaled the second-fastest of the day but both Richards-Ross and her coach, Clyde Hart, said improvement would be needed in Friday’s semi-finals.

“Coach will probably tell me I was I little slow through two and lazy on the curve,” the 2009 IAAF female athlete of the year said.

Hart concurred, saying, “It’s going to take races to get sharpened up.”

Despite being sidelined this spring, Richards-Ross said she felt strong.

“I just have to get the speed going and hopefully a fast time will come,” she said.

With no Olympic or world championship berths at stake, world 100 meters silver medalist Tyson Gay and standout female sprinter Carmelita Jeter were among top-flight athletes skipping the four-day competition.

Defending champions won the day’s key finals, the men’s and women’s 10,000 meters. Galen Rupp took the men’s in 28:59.29 while Amy Begley grabbed the women’s in 32:06.45.

Writing by Gene Cherry in Raleigh, North Carolina; Editing by Steve Ginsburg

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